By Tionna Jenkins, Ph.D., M.P.H.Senior Advisor, Health Equity, Clinton Health Matters Initiative
In the United States, one in three kids is overweight or obese, putting this generation at risk of being the first to live shorter lives than their parents. We spend approximately $245 billion every year in health care costs and lost wages associated with diabetes. And heart disease is the number one cause of death in both men and women.
As daunting as these trends seem, we know that a big factor in reversing them is dietary, and yet millions of people across the country lack access to healthy and affordable food. In fact, according to the USDA, about 23.5 million people live in neighborhoods that are more than a mile away from a supermarket – referred to as “food deserts.”
In Arkansas, food deserts are an increasing challenge. Since 1997, the number of supermarkets and other grocery stores has dropped by more than 40 percent, making it more and more difficult for residents to access nutritious food.
To help address this challenge, the Clinton Foundation’s Health Matters Initiative has been working alongside a diverse group of community partners in Central Little Rock to bring more produce and fresh food to communities that need it the most – a critical component of our Central Little Rock Blueprint for Action and of our overall work to close health inequity and disparity gaps for all people, which is something I am particularly passionate about.
To do this, we’ve worked with the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance and the Vine and Village organization to launch the Fresh2You Mobile Market in August of 2016. This fruit and veggies bus has already reached more than 3,500 people in the Little Rock community.
Here’s what one Fresh2You employee had to say about her work:
“There is one family that warms my heart every Saturday that they come visit the bus. They live in the neighborhood right next to the Hillary Clinton Children’s Library. The mother is blind. Her two kids watch for the bus every Saturday, and they walk over together. The mother said it is the highlight of her daughter’s Saturday. She purchases food to cook with and can feel everything with her hands. It is convenient for her, because all the produce is easily accessible. They even got some honey this week too!” – Emily DeYmaz, Fresh2You
We’re doing similar work in other communities, as well. In Atlantic Beach, Florida, for example, we recently opened an outdoor fresh food market alongside community partners based on findings in our Northeast Florida Blueprint for Action that showed the community was facing a similar challenge.
Keep reading to learn more about Fresh2You, the mobile market in Little Rock.
This content was originally published here.