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Greenfield Intercultural Center on Feb. 9, 2020. Credit: Melanie Hilman

The Greenfield Intercultural Center and Penn Park Farm have partnered to create a weekly produce pick-up service for members of the Penn community called Greenfield Greens, which provides fresh vegetables to anyone who needs assistance with obtaining food.

Starting Sept. 13, the GIC began to offer weekly opportunities to pick up a bag of produce at the center’s location on 37th and Chestnut streets behind Pottruck Health and Fitness Center. Every Monday night, the GIC releases a sign-up form at 8 p.m. for the produce pick-up, which is accessible through its weekly newsletter.

The program will run until about November due to the availability of produce supplied by Penn Park Farm. The program is slated to start up again around March or April when the produce at the farm will be readily available.

Greenfield Greens started after Penn Food and Wellness Collaborative coordinator Lila Bhide contacted Toyce Holmes, the GIC’s FGLI Program director, about the possibility of offering produce grown at Penn Park Farm to students, according to Sophie Tannenbaum, a master’s student at the School of Social Policy and Practice who works as a graduate assistant at the GIC.

Tannenbaum said that while the program is aimed at first-generation, low-income students who are more likely to be food insecure, there is a “no questions asked” policy about why a person signed up to collect produce.

After a few weeks of operating, students gave feedback that the sign-up form — which was previously released at 3 p.m. every week — was inconvenient for many students who were in class at that time, GIC graduate assistant and master's student Amy Yang said. Organizers then pushed back the time to 8 p.m. every Monday night, she said.

Yang added that while the program is open to all members of the Penn community including undergraduate and graduate students alike, the majority of the sign-ups each week consist of graduate students.

Yujin Kim, a master’s student in the School of Nursing who has been signing up for the past few weeks, said that she has enjoyed the produce pick-up program, as it alleviated some of her worries around getting food.

“I live off campus, and so it's been such a huge [help] that really allowed me to have weekly veggies and produce on a daily basis,” Kim said. “I feel if they expanded their initiative, it would be really helpful and could make an impact on a lot of students on and off campus.”

This is the first semester in which Greenfield Greens has been available, but similar programs have launched at Penn in the past. Penn Park Farm has partnered with the Netter Center for Community Partnerships to give out bags of produce to members of the West Philadelphia community through a program called the Good Food Bag. The program was expanded to include students at Penn who qualified for SNAP food assistance.

Bhide said that one of her goals as coordinator of PFWC is to help address food insecurity on campus, which inspired her work on Greenfield Greens. Bhide — who won Penn's “Your Big Idea” challenge in 2019 for her idea for an urban farm that eventually became Penn Park Farm — said she has always been interested in addressing food insecurity for students.

“When I was writing my proposal for the ‘Your Big Idea’ [challenge], I'd already had the idea for the farm, but I wanted to address campus food insecurity as well because I saw how much of a challenge there was,” Bhide said. “I know students during the pandemic struggled even more than before.”

Bhide said that she looks forward to continued collaboration with the GIC and a possible expansion of Greenfield Greens.

“This is really our first semester of being on campus with students,” Bhide said. “I’m looking forward to seeing how it grows and how we can loop in other partners and to explore all the different ways that we can support students around issues of food.”