One of the largest identified contributors to obesity among lower income communities is the healthy food desert, which references the lack of accessibility to healthy foods, like fresh produce, and the lack of affordability of healthy foods in certain geographic regions of the U.S., especially lower socio-economic areas. A new start up in Oregon has partnered with Whole Foods to solve that very problem. A trolley named Molly has come to town.
My Street Grocery
My Street Grocery is a healthier food store on wheels sponsored by Whole Foods that is partnering with specific Portland-area health clinics (located specifically in underserved areas) to bring healthier foods to people without regular access to items like fresh produce. My Street Grocery was actually conceived by a graduate school student, and the very first truck was repurposed from an old bread truck. The owner and co-founder, Amelia Pape, recently decided that combining forces with Whole Foods would be a win-win. A used trolley was accessed (its name was already Molly), and a selection of Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value products was used as stock inventory.
Recently the well-stocked trolley stationed itself at Oregon Health and Science University’s Family Medicine of Richmond clinic. The mobile store accepts cash, credit cards and food stamps, and is open four days a week. It will move around to different locations, and social media and other announcements will help to promote the fluid locations to residents. Refrigerated, frozen and shelf stable foods are being offered. The choice of the Everyday Value products was to specifically target the affordability issue that faces many of the locals. To overcome other challenges, the trolley typically stocks recipe cards and other tips like whether to eat something “with or without the skin.” You can learn more about My Street Grocery here.
Another approach to healthier food is heading to Union Square in New York City. Opening June 12th, Fresh Routes aims to offer commuters on their way home from work or the gym dinner kits that include fresh, locally sourced ingredients, plus a recipe that provides a 30-minute meal for four. Originally offered as an online concept, the founders decided to extend the concept to a pop-up store in a popular city destination. It’s a smart option for people on-the-go, who want “easy and healthy” foods. Of course, if you live in New York and don’t use this station, you can still access these dinner kits online. Hopefully the concept will expand, since we can all certainly use some help creating healthy meals for ourselves and our families.
Since many of us don't live in New York City or Oregon, the challenge to access and afford healthy food still remains. Here are some helpful suggestions for finding healthy food options near you:
- Consider searching for weekend farmer's markets that offer fresh produce and baked goods, as well as cheeses, fresh herbs, fish and meat from local farmers and growers. If you shop at the end of the day, sellers are more likely to drop their prices so they don't have to haul leftovers home.
- You can also devote a day a week, say on the weekend, to traveling to a large food and supply source like Costco, to buy in bulk. If the packages have more than you need, consider freezing when possible, or buddy up with another family so that you can get the benefit of lower pricing while only buying as much as you need for your family. Splitting bulk packs can be quite cost saving.
Amy Hendel is a Physician Assistant and Health Coach with over 20 years of experience. Noted author, journalist and lifestyle expert, she brings extensive expertise to her monthly shareposts. Her most recent book, The 4 Habits of Healthy Families is available for purchase online, and you can watch her in action on her shows Food Rescue and What's for Lunch? Sign up for her daily health tweets or catch her daily news report at www.healthgal.com.
Published On: June 09, 2014