Getting some fresh air and food

Senior group helps bring the farmers market to Summit Tower residents

Visiting a farmers market is a good way to get fresh local produce, but senior citizens can't always visit them regularly due to disabilities or other limitations.

Summit Towers, a senior apartment complex providing low-income housing for 200 elderly or disabled people, has partnered with Senior Whole Health Plus of New York HMO to bring a farmers market on-site.

The market is held in Tower's parking lot at 720 Albany, St., in Schenectady every Monday from 10 a.m. to noon until the middle of September. The first market, held three weeks ago, received high marks from residents. The market is also open to the general public.

[Residents] are very happy about it, because the closet farmers market is on Sunday all the way down on Jay Street, said Barbara Augusta, executive director for Summit Towers. "They are either elderly or disabled, so they can't do it."

Most of the residents at the facility also don't drive or have easy access to transportation, said Augusta.

Residents do receive donated food, but it is usually recently expired, and even though it is still safe to eat, the farmers market provides a nice change.

"Normally what people get at Summit Towers are [food] donations that are old," said Augusta. "We are very grateful for everything we get, but it is day-old stuff, but this is fresh stuff."

Also, Augusta said, the market encourages residents to come outside and enjoy the weather while socializing with one another.

Senior Whole Health approached Summit Towers about bringing the farmers market to residents, which is part of SWH's summer initiative also taking place Saratoga, Rensselaer and Montgomery counties.

Many SWH members are on food stamps and end up needing to visit local pantries near the end of the month, said Margaret Wallingford, executive director for SWH. Knowing seniors could be on a tight budget, SWH is providing residents with vouchers to help purchase produce from the farmers market.

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