Fresh fruits, vegetables: Coastal seniors benefit from CSA boxes

September 15, 2021

Caption: Steuart Martens, a Village Volunteer board member, from left, and Beebe  Care’s Population Health nurses Monica Scott, BSN, RN, and Cecilia D’Orazio, RN, load CSA boxes from the Food Bank of Delaware into Martens’ car. Village Volunteers will deliver the fresh produce to qualifying seniors.

Thanks to a collaboration among the Food Bank of Delaware, Beebe Healthcare, and Village Volunteers in Lewes, senior citizens receive a weekly Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) box of fresh fruits and vegetables from the Food Bank’s farm in Newark.

How does this work? Seniors who are eligible – meeting criteria for age, residency, and income – can participate in the Food Bank’s Health Pantry program. In this particular partnership, the seniors connect first to Beebe through the hospital’s Population Health program. They have been Beebe patients, and upon discharge indicated some degree of food insecurity. Right now, about 40 of those seniors have decided to also receive a weekly CSA box that contains fresh fruits and vegetables.

The Village Volunteers – also senior citizens – lend their services by delivering the CSA boxes to those unable to drive or pick up the boxes at Beebe’s Rehoboth Campus off Route 24.

Beebe Community Health Coordinator Monica Scott, BSN, RN, praises the partnership because it does more than offer fresh, nutritious food. “It’s nice. As a nurse, I see people already sick, but this gives them preventive healthcare, helping them eat right. It’s nice to see them, and maybe prevent us from ever having to see them. We also get to build a relationship with them in a very proactive way. I call them every week. I love being a part of this. It’s a gift for us; it serves as a sense of purpose,” she said.

In addition to serving on the Village Volunteers, Martens is a National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach, so he is well aware of the value of fresh, local fruits and vegetables. He, Scott, and D’Orazio packed the hatch of his car with 21 boxes that he would take back to the Village Volunteers’ Lewes office, and from there volunteers would deliver them; it’s one way volunteers can earn credit for future service.

These same volunteers may shop for senior or provide transportation to personal appointments as well.

“We also do friendly visits. We’re often a link to family. A lot of people couldn’t be independent without us. Our pay is our gratitude. Volunteers get warm fuzzies and smiles. We love giving the boxes, and we love partnering with Beebe. We’re eternally grateful for the work they do.,” Martens said.

D’Orazio agrees that the programs benefit everyone they touch. “Everything is interdependent. COVID has pointed that out,” she said.

Click here to learn more about the Food Bank of Delaware’s programs.

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