MANCHESTER, NH – To help ensure that Queen City children have access to wholesome and nutritious foods during summer break, Elliot Health Systems has partnered with the Boys & Girls Club of Manchester and the Organization for Refugee and Immigrant Success (ORIS) to provide free food boxes to 50 families from July through Thanksgiving.
The “Cool Kids Food Box” program is a pre-packed box filled with locally produced fruits and vegetables grown by new American farmers participating in ORIS’s incubator farmer program Fresh Start Farms. Each week the boxes feature culturally appropriate foods, recipes and a map of mobile market sites and Healthy Corner Stores in Manchester that feature fresh local foods.
“This is a win-win for the community,” says Mukhtar Idhow, Executive Director of ORIS. “Immigrant and Refugee farmers are able to earn income through the sale of their produce and the community that needs it most is able to access it. We hope more initiatives like this will continue to grow in the city.”
In a bipartisan vote earlier this month, the Board of Mayor and Alderman moved their American Rescue Plan Funding recommendations forward to fund a Manchester Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) Initiative that aims to increase healthy food options especially in food desert areas. If awarded, the city would help fund similar projects through December 2026.
“The Elliot is proud to partner with Fresh Start Farms and the Boys and Girls Club of Manchester to bring locally produced fruits and vegetables to children and families in our community. This is a unique and important collaboration to improve access and reduce a family’s food insecurity, an issue that has been heightened over the past 16 months. Access to local, whole foods is a critical aspect of leading a healthy life”, said Greg Baxter, MD President of Elliot Health System and Chief Clinical Officer/SolutionHealth.
“The nation is abuzz with talk about good, healthy food. Yet, for many families, especially those living in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color, healthy food is simply out of reach due to availability and exorbitant prices,” says Diane Fitzpatrick, CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Manchester. “It’s no surprise these same communities face the highest risks of obesity, diabetes, and other preventable food-related health challenges. We value how this partnership will emphasize healthy habits among our families and young people and improve their overall well-being.”
The Cool Kids Food Boxes are available for pick up at the Boys & Girls Club’s Union Street Clubhouse every Friday from 3 to 5:30 p.m. on a first-come, first-served basis. Acceptance and participation requirements for the Program are the same for all children regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability.