Treasure Coast Food Bank, a member of Feeding America, announced today the launch of Market Fresh on the Move, a healthy food access program to make it easier for low-income families to obtain nutritious food by bringing a mobile grocery store to their neighborhoods.
The rolling grocery store is equipped with shelves and cold storage to hold thousands of pounds of fresh, nutritious food. It will visit neighborhoods that lack easy access to grocery stores – so-called food deserts –where people can shop for high-quality, nutritious grocery items at low cost. It is expected to provide 200,000 meals in Indian River County during its first year of service.
But in addition to healthy food, the Market Fresh on the Move program brings a benefits specialist to the neighborhoods to help people enroll in SNAP, formerly known as food stamps, as well as nutritional education and healthy cooking demonstrations right from the vehicle’s on-board kitchen.
With today’s launch, Indian River County becomes the first area in South Florida for the innovative program. Treasure Coast Food Bank and leaders from the organizations that helped underwrite Market Fresh on the Move cut a ribbon wrapped across the new rolling grocery store before a gathering at the Boys & Girls Club of Indian River County. The program was made possible with grants from Indian River Impact 100, Indian River Community Foundation, and the John’s Island Foundation.
“We are so fortunate and thankful for the funding support provided by Indian River Impact 100, Indian River Community Foundation, and John’s Island Foundation,” said Judith Cruz, President and CEO of Treasure Coast Food Bank. “They embraced this vision and understood the importance of providing access to healthy food.”
Individuals on hand for the ribbon-cutting got a chance to tour the mobile market – the hub of the unique concept – and enjoy a healthy lunch created in the onboard kitchen. Treasure Coast Food Bank also provided meals for the students in the Boys & Girls Club’s after-school program.
“There are four barriers for people who struggle to get healthy food,” Cruz said. “The first is how much somebody earns. The second is geography – where somebody lives and how far they have to go to get nutritious food. The third is education. A lot of people aren’t familiar with how to prepare healthy meals at low cost. And the fourth is competition – competition from inexpensive places. It’s easy to go to a $1 menu to get something to eat. It fills your belly, doesn’t cost much. But it’s not really nutritious. Market Fresh will help overcome these barriers by providing affordable choices and bringing the grocery store directly to the people who need it most.”
Indian River County has nearly 7,000 households with incomes below the poverty line. Fewer than 5,000 are enrolled in SNAP, with many more eligible. With limited household incomes, families often opt for cheap, unhealthy food either to stretch their food budgets or because healthier options are not available. The mobile market allows them to shop for healthy food right in their neighborhoods, and for those who are eligible, enables them to access SNAP and expand their household budgets. Their purchasing power will be doubled when buying fresh produce because of Treasure Coast Food Bank’s participation in Feeding Florida’s Fresh Access Bucks program.
Using extensive data analysis, Treasure Coast Food Bank, a member of Feeding America, has identified areas with few or no grocery stores as the primary focus for Market Fresh on the Move’s service routes. But any Indian River County resident is welcome to shop at the mobile grocery store. All earned revenue will be reinvested into the program.
Market Fresh on the Move is the newest of more than 20 direct-service programs by Treasure Coast Food Bank to address the underlying issues of hunger and the root causes of poverty.
ABOUT TREASURE COAST FOOD BANK
Treasure Coast Food Bank is the only food bank and largest hunger relief organization on Florida’s Treasure Coast, providing the community each year with millions of meals valued at more than $50 million through robust programs and in partnership with 400 charitable organizations in Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin, and Okeechobee counties. In addition to emergency food distribution, Treasure Coast Food Bank operates a full roster of direct service programs that not only solve the immediate problem of hunger, but help individuals and families gain long-term food security, better health outcomes, and self-sufficiency. Treasure Coast Food Bank is a member of Feeding America, the nationwide network of 200 food banks that leads the fight against hunger in the United States. For more information on Treasure Coast Food Bank, call 772.489.3034, log on to stophunger.org, visit our Facebook page at facebook.com/tcfoodbank, or follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/tcfoodbank.