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Program will bring farm fresh produce to New Cassel seniors

Laura Zelenka-Dufresne, a dietitian from Northwell Health, shows

Laura Zelenka-Dufresne, a dietitian from Northwell Health, shows seniors how to cook with healthy ingredients during a kickoff event at Magnolia Gardens in Westbury on Thursday, March 9, 2017. Credit: Howard Schnapp

From fresh, leafy greens to ripe heirloom tomatoes, a bounty of free seasonal produce will soon be available to seniors in the hamlet of New Cassel.

A nutritional program focused on promoting wellness and healthy eating will begin next month at Magnolia Gardens, a low-income housing development for seniors.

The Fresh from the Garden Program is a partnership between North Hempstead Town and EAC Network, a Hempstead-based social services nonprofit serving Long Island and the rest of the metropolitan area.

With monthly produce deliveries, nutrition talks and cooking demonstrations, the program aims to equip seniors with the tools they need to improve their health.

At a kickoff event last week hosted by Magnolia Gardens, Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth said that the board was “so pleased” to be working with EAC Network on the program, which she said was “like bringing a farmers market right to their doorstep.”

New Cassel residents 60 years and older who meet income qualifications can sign up by calling EAC Network. The nonprofit has already begun reviewing applicants, for whom rent is 30 percent of their income, town officials said. Students from Hofstra University’s Center for Civic Engagement are assisting with outreach and enrolling new members.

Fresh produce from Long Island CARES Food Bank and other local farmers markets will begin on April 1. Monthly nutrition discussions with a registered dietitian from Northwell Health will start on March 22 at Magnolia Gardens, with topics to address shopping and cooking on a tight budget, and reducing nutritional risks for chronic disease.

Councilwoman Viviana Russell said the program “hit home to what is necessary in the community,” with many seniors unaware of the available community resources.

Food access issues have long persisted in the area, which several town officials described as a food desert. There are few grocery stores in the neighborhood, and a large portion of the senior citizen population is homebound, officials said.

“People who live here don’t have many choices,” said Carol O’Neill, a senior director at EAC Network, adding that there was only one grocery near Magnolia Gardens, which is located at 899 Broadway in Westbury.

The program is funded by two $20,000 grants from Long Island Community Foundation and Bank of America, O’Neill said.

Magnolia Gardens residents welcomed the program with enthusiasm, particularly thrilled that it was coming right to their doorstep.

“The fresh vegetables are really a winner,” said Shelley Sutton, 54, whose husband is eligible for the program. “Stores are so expensive, and we don’t have a big income.”

Sylvia Baines, 72, said she’s already put her name down, and that the program would aid seniors reluctant to ask for help.

“A lot of people in the community may not eat properly,” Baines said. “I didn’t get to be this age by eating junk food.”


(recipe provided by Northwell Health)


4 large eggs

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

1 medium tomato, chopped (½ cup chopped)

½ cup spinach, chopped

1 bulb of scallion, finely sliced (1 tbsp.)

½ cup cheddar cheese, shredded


1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray an 8-x8-inch glass dish with cooking spray and set aside.

2. In a bowl, whisk the eggs, salt and pepper, then add the chopped vegetables, scallions and ¼ cup of cheddar cheese. Whisk to combine. Pour into prepared dish and sprinkle remaining cheddar cheese on top.

3. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove from the oven. Allow to cool for five minutes. Makes four servings.

One serving provides:

Calories: 144 kcals

Protein: 12.7 g

Carbohydrate: 2 g

Fat: 10 g

Sodium: 488 mg


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