By American Heart Association News
Flint, Michigan, is best known in recent years for its troubles over tainted water. But another problem has challenged the city for decades: Most of its population lack easy access to healthy, nutritious produce.
Flint Fresh took on the challenge first through its Mobile Market – a portable produce stand – and then with its veggie box delivery program. Last fall, the nonprofit opened a building to house all its operations. The “food hub” serves as a central location to aggregate, process and distribute the healthy fruits and vegetables supplied from nearly 40 area farmers.
Since most of the city is considered a food desert, an area where few retailers sell fresh fruits and vegetables, Flint Fresh arranges to bring nutritious, affordable produce into town. It also transports boxes of produce directly to people’s homes.
“Just getting an increased consumption of fresh produce obviously provides a healthier diet, but it also will help eliminate many illnesses and diseases in our community. I know we do have a high rate for obesity and diabetes in this area,” said Flint Fresh executive director Cheryl McHallam. “Getting people educated and understanding what it means to have good, healthy food is a goal for our community.”
Flint Fresh’s food hub also operates as a wholesale provider to restaurants, hospitals, caterers, childcare centers and other facilities.
The hub also contains a food processing operation where produce is chopped, shredded, parboiled, frozen and prepped according to the needs of customers that include schools and senior centers.