Straight to the Doorstep

A recent New York Times article highlights a health initiative making waves in the South Bronx. The project is known as the South Bronx Mobile Market, and aims to bring fresh produce and healthy food options to impoverished communities in the City’s northernmost borough. The South Bronx has some of the highest indices of health issues associated with poor nutrition: obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. But many residents are concerned; fresh produce or healthy food options are not readily available. In fact some residents say that its actually easier and cheaper to grab fast food than go to a grocery store for a more nutritious option. And when they can make it to a grocery store? Lots of large chains label their produce with heightened prices (the article makes reference to one grocery store charging $7 for one pepper). One resident featured in the pieces says that she has to make the trip to Washington Heights or Chinatown- quite a ways from the South Bronx- for affordable food.

But South Bronx Mobile Market looks to challenge that unhealthy danger by breathing new life into the community. The program, modeled after similar initiatives in New Orleans, Detroit, and Chicago, was funded from about $65,000 of donations and grants to BLK Projek, an NPO that envisions food as a means to empower minority women and youth. The Mobile Market utilizes a repurposed school bus that runs on used vegetable oil that provides curbside grocery service. Customers climb aboard, and examine a healthy variety of produce. Founder Tanya Fields goes out and buys the produce, loads it onto the bus, and takes it to the communities in need. South Bronx Mobile Market accepts food stamps, as well as credit cards and cash. But for those who can’t afford the food, Ms. Fields says that she gladly gives it to them at no charge.

Although its making a beneficial impact on the community, there’s much room for growth and improvement. Right now, Ms. Fields just transports and delivers produce, but she hopes for the installation of solar panels. That way, she can power a refrigerator and provide meat and organic dairy. There were also a few kinks this winter- at least one occasion saw the bus’s need to be started with the assistance of jumping cables, and another that saw it fail to turn on altogether. However, its future looks bright; residents welcome the good will of BLK Projek and South Bronx Mobile Market, with a warm hope.