New Rochelle’s Bloom Healthy Pop-Up Helps Food Insecure People

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A new ephemeral grocery store has opened in New Rochelle with the mission of paying forward and helping people in a situation of food insecurity.

Healthy flowering, at 595 Main Street in the Center for the Arts building, is an brainchild of Marion Henson, a Mount Vernon resident who wanted to make healthy food more affordable and accessible, especially in and near food deserts.

Its boxes of fresh, organic produce are customizable and feature a “pay it forward with kindness” option, which encourages people to provide healthy food to a family in need.

The idea to offer fresh vegetables, fruits, mushrooms and herbs, came from Henson’s own experience with food insecurity in 2017, when her husband lost his job for 10 years and she had just given birth to their third child.

“There are a lot of people who go unnoticed,” she said. “People like us who may not qualify for a food program.

Likewise, she said, there are people who may not have time – because they have two or even three jobs – to line up for a food bank.

And, there is also a matter of pride.

“Nobody really talks about it,” she said, “You could be sitting in your office with your coworker and thinking everything is fine, but this person might only have one meal a day.”

Her program, she hopes, will help alleviate those concerns.

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It is open from July 14 (until 5 p.m.) then from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays thereafter.

Options include a Giant Bloom box that serves three to six and has 18 items and a Little Bloom that feeds one to three and has 12 items. Customers who pay for these boxes – the Giant Bloom costs $ 50; Little Bloom costs $ 35 – are encouraged to pay it up front and buy for those Henson has in his database as food insecure. (Henson has previously identified families by contacting local churches and schools, but encourages others to apply directly on the website. Income is not a deterrent, she stressed, as many factors go into it. at stake in food insecurity issues.)

On the menu (although subject to change): Organic blueberries, bananas, mangoes, avocado, asparagus, cucumbers, herbs and a variety of mushrooms including portobello and shitake.

Within minutes of starting his first day, Henson’s smile was almost as big as his boxes. The idea of ​​doing it, she said, began long before her own food insecurity issues – she once worked in soup kitchens and also volunteered at Feeding Westchester – but she hadn’t the support system to set it up.

However, thanks to the launch of the Westchester County Economic Development Office’s Launch1000 program, which provides free education and mentoring to county residents, she was able to benefit from a new partnership with Kiva, a microcredit organization that enables “Launchers” ask for zero interest loans. Other interested residents have until July 15 to apply for the 2021 program.

Henson plans to adjust her schedules and offerings as she goes (and grows). It also hopes to expand to other food insecure areas. For now, Bloom Healthy will be present on its New Rochelle site until September 15.

Jeanne Muchnick covers food and meals. Click here for his most recent articles and follow his latest culinary adventures on Instagram @lohud_food or via the lohudfood newsletter.





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