Vendors delivering fresh produce to underserved areas

June 8, 2012 (CHICAGO)

Mobile food vendors are expanding their reach, delivering fresh fruits and vegetables to communities where access to fresh produce is limited.

Once a week students at Brunson Elementary School get a treat.

If they bring a bit of spending change, they can buy some fresh fruit, with the most popular by far being the grapes.

"I got some green grapes and they was delicious," Levon Carothers said. "I really like the fresh moves truck because they give you a lot of choices of food."

Fresh Moves Mobile Produce Market makes stops throughout the West Side of Chicago, bringing fresh fruits and vegetables to neighborhoods that have limited to no access to fresh produce.

Those areas are known as food deserts.

"We're a 365-day solution to a massive problem we see in Chicago and the nation's communities," said Fresh Moves' Steve Casey. "Lack of access to fresh food fruit is compromising the futures of adults and children across the city and nation."

Soon a Fresh Moves bus will make its way south.

Friday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the secretary of the US Department of Agriculture announced a collaborative effort to add a South Side Fresh Moves bus by the fall.

"If you don't know what to do with kale they got a recipe," Emanuel said. "You want to grow something in your back yard, they have free seeds. Everything here is to break down the barriers to access, to make it more available, more affordable,"

Secretary Tom Vilsack says getting healthy options to all Americans is in everyone's best interest with rising healthcare costs and possibly at the expensive of our national security.

"Retired admirals and generals now concerned that we don't have sufficient numbers of young people fit for service in an all volunteer armed forces," Vilsack said.

Orkrita Hudson is a West Side resident who works with teenagers. She says her nearest store rarely has fresh produce and what they have is pricey.

She is glad to see fresh moves making stops near her and her young clients.

"I see them eating all this junk and if they had a place that they could conveniently get the fruits and vegetables they need they wouldn't as much junk as they do," she said.

Secretary Vilsack says at Mayor Emanuel's urging they will try to get four new Fresh Moves buses in Chicago.

For now, the extra bus will be added to the South Side.

The secretary also announced a new study to look at the impact mobile produce markets have on residents' health.

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