The Fresh Stop mobile farmers market, a bus operated by Hebni Nutrition Consultants, is fully operational and selling low cost fruits and vegetables in food deserts throughout Orange County five days per week. It makes two to three stops a day, and its schedule includes visits to Eatonville Town Hall or Hungerford Preparatory High School in Eatonville from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. every Wednesday.
Launched with a $105,000 Winter Park Health Foundation (WPHF) grant as well as funding from others, including Florida Hospital’s Community Health Impact Council, the Fresh Stop bus project was designed to address the health disparities existing in food deserts by using a re-purposed city transit bus to serve as a mobile grocery store. (Food deserts are areas where there is no easy access to fresh, healthy foods such as produce.)
The Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority, LYNX, donated a retired bus to the project. It has been retrofitted with coolers and shelves to serve as the mobile farmers market bringing fresh fruit and vegetables to the identified food deserts.
It also provides Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) access for those customers who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, formerly known as food stamps.
The bus is being operated in the 16 communities with the highest levels of health disparities in Orange County, including Eatonville, and where there is limited access to a super market or large grocery store.
The two other stores in Eatonville do not sell fresh fruits and vegetables, said Katrina Jackson, a resident of Eatonville, member of the Healthy Eatonville Team and a Florida Hospital technician. “This bus makes it easier for our residents to access healthy foods.”
The target populations for Hebni’s services are minorities at risk for obesity, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, stroke and obesity. Hebni has developed intervention programs and educational tools which address underserved populations who are at high risk for poor health outcomes.
Hebni has been working with underserved communities in Orange County for more than 18 years and has partnered with local churches, schools, community centers, local housing authority, city and county leaders, and local community-based organizations to bring culturally appropriate nutrition education to at-risk minority populations living in Eatonville and Winter Park neighborhoods.
Click here for more information about the Fresh Stop Bus.