By Big Chuck

A new program at Pathfinder Village in Edmestion will allow local families to access fresh produce as well as employing many persons with developmental disabilities.

Through a $201,000 grant from the Leatherstocking Collaborative Health Partners (LCHP), two area non-profits—Pathfinder Village and the Bassett Research Institute— will launch a new Mobile Market program and provide fruit and vegetable vouchers to eligible families in early 2019.  SUNY Cobleskill will be a supporting partner by providing technical assistance and college interns for this innovative program.

“Within the next few months, Pathfinder Village will obtain a refrigerated vehicle to start regular market routes to make affordable fruits and vegetables available to communities that don’t have full-service supermarkets,” said Pathfinder’s Chief Executive Officer Paul C. Landers. “The other part of the program will provide employment for persons with developmental disabilities in Otsego County.  Workers will participate in all aspects of the project; food cultivation, packaging, transportation, sales and conducting food demonstrations.”

The Mobile Market and food prescription program is an outgrowth of successful earlier collaborations between Bassett Healthcare Network and Pathfinder Village.  Working with Bassett’s 5-2-1-0 childhood obesity prevention initiative, Pathfinder opened its weekly Pathfinder Produce market in March 2013 to improve local access to fresh foods.  Later, the partners offered a pilot fruit and vegetable prescription program for Edmeston and Morris, which was underwritten by an American Heart Association grant.  Voucher redemption rates averaged 94%, and over half the recipients continued purchasing fruits and vegetables after the close of the pilot program.

The new Mobile Market and prescription program will be partially funded by the LCHP, a consortium of 90 non-profits and healthcare organizations that are working with the New York State Department of Health to make regional health services more accessible, patient-centered, and cost-effective.  The LCHP grant will underwrite equipment and prescription vouchers for one year.  Participants will be identified by healthcare staff at regional care management agencies; the recipients will be guided in using their prescription vouchers by a Mobile Market Coordinator at Pathfinder Village.

Pathfinder Village is an internationally respected open-access community and services provider in upstate New York and was founded in 1980 to provide people living with Down syndrome and other disabilities an independent and fulfilling lifestyle. As it works to provide quality supports for individuals with intellectual disabilities, the Village also offers highly successful educational, day services, pre-vocational and outreach programs.  To learn more, visit the website at https://pathfindervillage.org, or visit our fan page on the popular social networking site, Facebook.