Hebni Nutrition Consultants’ (Hebni) Fresh Stop Bus, a mobile farmer’s market, will soon be stopping at Cheney Elementary School thanks to grant support from the Winter Park Health Foundation (WPHF). Cheney, one of WPHF’s Coordinated Youth Initiative partner schools, has a high percentage of students who qualify for the free/reduced price meal program and have limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables outside of school. Hebni is a community-based, non-profit dedicated to educating high-risk, culturally diverse populations about nutrition strategies to prevent diet-related diseases. The Fresh Stop Bus, which received seed funding in 2014 from WPHF, provides produce and healthy pre-packaged items to residents living in food desert communities where there is little to no access to fresh, affordable produce.
This pilot project seeks to increase access to and the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables among the students of Cheney Elementary, their parents/guardians, school staff, patients of the Cheney Wellness Cottage which is situated on school property, and the surrounding residential and business community. The Fresh Stop Bus will set up on Cheney’s campus one day per week, immediately after the last school bell rings, throughout the school year. The Bus ties in to several initiatives currently in place to promote health and good nutrition at the school including an after-school cooking club, raised bed gardens, Healthy School Team activities and an annual holiday “food drop” in partnership with Second Harvest Food Bank (SHFB) which bring large volumes of shelf-stable food into the community over the holiday season when school is out and students are not being fed there. Cheney students who receive weekend High Five Food Packs – thanks to another grant from WPHF – will be able to shop for fresh produce on the Fresh Stop Bus using vouchers provided through the WPHF grant. This is a direct result of a focus group WPHF facilitated with these students during which they expressed a desire for fresh fruit in their food packs.
Patients of the Cheney Wellness Cottage, a Federally Qualified Healthcare Center (FQHC), will receive “prescriptions” for increasing fresh fruits and vegetables in their diets. The prescription pads will also contain a list of produce on the bus, healthy eating tips and seasonal recipes. The Orange County Co-Op Extension is also on board to provide in-kind nutrition education to Cheney students during after-school programs.
The bus will operate as a fee-for-service model with the intention of creating a scalable model for expansion to additional schools within the Winter Park Consortium and throughout OCPS.