Lantern Community Services provides our clients with the skills and resources they need to access, prepare, and enjoy nutritious food—a cornerstone of physical health and a good quality of life. Our multi-pronged approach increases our clients’ ability to access and prepare whole foods from scratch and to deepen our clients’ understanding about where their food comes from. Our work meets the distinctive needs of low-income individuals, families, individuals living with mental illness, children and youth.
In partnership with Greenmarket Co., and with support from City Council Members, Lantern provides our clients with regular Fresh Food Boxes containing an assortment of seasonal fruits, vegetables, eggs and grains sourced from regional farmers. Lantern’s Health and Wellness coordinators offer cooking demonstrations and tastings to ensure that clients become familiar with the produce that is distributed.
- Access to food benefits and nutritional counseling: We ensure that all clients who are eligible for Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits access them, and participate in the NYC Department of Health’s “Health Bucks” program, so our clients can purchase fresh fruits and vegetables during our group outings to local farmers’ markets. Clients are referred to nutritional counseling as needed.
- Communal meals: At several Lantern buildings, we provide regular, nutritious communal meals, which assist with food security, build community, and decrease social isolation.
Our culinary education programs provide clients with the opportunity to learn new recipes, practice their cooking skills and share a meal with community members. Seasonal cooking workshops focus on preparing the foods in the weekly Fresh Food Boxes. In 2017, Lantern was awarded the USDA’s Community Food Project Grant to implement the Food 4 Life program across our three sites that serve young adults who have aged out of foster care. The Food 4 Life program is a culinary and budgeting education program that equips our clients with skills that they need to lead a healthy life.
To increase food security, build community and decrease social isolation of our clients, Lantern provides communal meals to our clients on a regular basis.
Several Lantern buildings host onsite gardening programs in which residents grow herbs, flowers and vegetables. With the assistance of teachers who are experts in urban gardening, our gardening programs build community, beautify the spaces, and offer our clients the opportunity to try their hand at growing food right where they live.
From the Lantern blog