Amy Wilson, Community Nutrition Manager at the Food Bank of CNY, shows produce items packed in a box.

The need for healthy, fresh food is urgent on the Near Westside.

To help meet this need, the Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion has teamed up with the Near Westside Peacemaking Project and the Food Bank of Central New York to bring the Mobile Food Pantry to Syracuse residents who are most in need.

Last week, residents received approximately 150 food boxes filled with milk, eggs, yogurt, fruit, vegetables and bread via the Food Bank’s Mobile Food Pantry. The distribution on a Friday afternoon was the third Mobile Food Pantry distribution that has been organized since the closing of the neighborhood’s anchor grocery store, Nojaim Brothers Supermarket, last September.

Residents of the Syracuse Housing Authority and nearby neighborhoods signed in and received a ticket for a food box based on the number of individuals in their household. Volunteers set up music and coffee for residents to enjoy while they waited. In about an hour, all boxes were given out. The distribution took place in the parking lot of Nojaim. The shuttering of the supermarket marked the closure of a longtime neighborhood business and also presented a major challenge for residents to access healthy food, especially for those with limited transportation options.

Jordana Gilman, left, of the Lerner Center, and Renzo Quesada of the Food Bank of CNY, distributed boxes.

Volunteers helped residents carry their food boxes and load them into cars. Each box contained food donated by Wegmans, Tops and other area supermarkets. Amy Wilson, Community Nutrition Manager at the Food Bank, was on hand to share nutrition information with residents as the received their boxes. Also, volunteers let residents know that the next distribution would take place in February.

Residents visited a sign-in table and received a ticket number to help expedite the food box distribution.

The Mobile Food Pantry is the Food Bank of Central New York’s latest distribution initiative that works to overcome challenges of food access and food deserts, according to its website.

The Lerner Center has partnered with organizations to work towards improving community health on the Near West Side. Stay tuned for more developments in 2018 related to food access, healthy eating, neighborhood safety and more!