POSTED: Thursday, August 23, 2012 - 6:51pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - 1:28pm
BATON ROUGE, LA (NBC33) — It may surprise many people in Baton Rouge to know that they're living in food deserts. Those are areas where stores with fresh, available produce is more than a mile away, meaning people are more likely to make unhealthy food choices. A new grant obtained through the mayor's Healthy City Initiative is looking to fix that.
"If you don't have a grocery store within one mile of where you live, that's technically classified as a food desert. It tends to add to obesity rates because obviously if you don't have access to healthy foods, and especially healthy affordable foods, it's harder to eat healthy," Sunanna Chand, with the Mayor’s Healthy City Initiative, explained.
That's why with a $1 million grant, the city and non-profit partners, will set out to set up a mobile food market, bringing healthy choices to the areas with the least healthy options.
"We'll be giving them a chance to think differently about their food, and that it doesn't take a lot of time to eat healthy. That you can do things quickly with fruits and vegetables, just like you can drive through something," Copper Alvarez, a supporter of the Mobile Market, explained.
The mobile food market will look much like a regular farmers market, and profits after three years should keep the operation sustainable. While the goal is to eventually make the mobile food market financially self sustaining farmers will also be taking SNAP and WIC cards to pay for produce.
"If the mobile food market is successful in terms of the amount it sells we should be able to sustain that market beyond that 3 years just from the profit from the market that we're getting," Chand said.
"Our costs will be covered in the initial part of the grant to set up the equipment for the mobile market and those sort of things. And then from that point on it will be run just like a farmers market," Alvarez said.
This program is all part of a larger initiative, the Fresh Beginnings Program, which will also provide new fitness equipment and educational tools to four schools in those targeted areas.