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Many areas in central Florida lack easy access to fresh, healthy foods. Registered Dietitian Roniece Weaver recognized the problem 20-years ago in the neighborhoods around the center of Orlando. She teamed up with a few other dietitians to form Hebni Nutrition Consultants to educate people on how to prevent diet related diseases.
The group wanted to give the neighborhood better access to healthy staples like apples, lettuce, bananas, and tomatoes. So they figured they had two options: find local stores that will expand their fresh produce offerings, or try something a bit different—a mobile farmers’ market. Weaver says the mobile market is a better solution.
“We can expand our reach and be anywhere on any given day, and reach different populations with different culturally relevant foods, ” says Weaver.
Advocates are pushing the idea of customizing and stocking a retired LYNX bus with fresh fruits and vegetables to sell in low-income communities where full-service grocery stores and transportation options are limited.
In January 2014, a pitch for the Mobile Farmer’s Market bus project will be made to Orange County elected leaders. The LYNX board is expected to consider the program later in the month.
December 2014 Update: A LYNX bus has been donated and retrofitted to serve as a mobile market for areas of Orange County that have poor healthy food access. Leaders of the program say they will tailor produce offerings to be culturally relevant to each neighborhood the bus visits.
Once the bus is fully stocked, it will visit at least 16 underserved communities in Orange County twice a month. It will stop at community centers, apartment complexes and other locations where folks tend to gather. The bus will also visit Orange County Public Schools, stocked with food donated by Second Harvest, to offer kids free snacks and an educational opportunity.
They are taking the necessary steps to be able to accept SNAP benefits, ensuring that all families can afford fresh fruits and vegetables from the mobile market.
Read more about the bus on their website.