Farm to Shelter: Nutrition for the Homeless

Fresh, locally grown cucumbers, kale, spinach, apples, berries, and more… That’s breakfast for many homeless and low-income men and women living in the Lowell area! How? These delicious vegetables are turned into free healthy breakfast smoothies thanks to a new partnership with Gaining Ground and other produce providers.

Breakfast smoothies are a major component of a new initiative at Lowell Transitional Living Center (LTLC) called Farm to Shelter: Nutrition for the Homeless. The goal of Farm to Shelter is to create nutritious meal options using primarily donated and surplus produce for a population suffering from diabetes, heart disease, and other conditions.

Starting in July of this year, a new smoothie recipe was tested each week with LTLC clients and staff, and the early feedback has been extremely positive. The program’s early partners include Gaining Ground, Verrill Farm, Mill City Grows, UMass Lowell, Whole Foods, and Life Alive. Volunteers are now signing up to pre-package frozen smoothie ingredients or to prepare and serve smoothies to LTLC’s clients as a great, nutritious start to the day.

LTLC is a 90-bed shelter and home to Community Meals, a program supported by Merrimack and Boston Food Banks, faith-based and community organizations, local companies, and generous donors. Their kitchen offers three meals a day, 365 days a year. As a step toward better health for all, weekly produce donations from Gaining Ground are a new and much appreciated source of organic vegetables for the smoothies and the community dinners prepared by our kitchen.