In 2011, Josh Trautwein was a nutrition educator in Boston, Massachusetts. He wanted to teach kids how to live healthy lives. Then the neighborhood’s only grocery store closed. As a result, families were having a tough time finding fresh fruits and vegetables. “We were trying to provide them with healthy cooking strategies to try at home,” Trautwein told TIME for Kids, “but we didn’t have an answer for the fact that there wasn’t a grocery store.”
Fresh Food For All
In 2017, about 17% of Americans lived more than half a mile from a supermarket. That’s according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The USDA uses the term food desert to describe a neighborhood without access to fresh food.
Trautwein wanted to solve the food-desert problem. In 2013, he and Annika Morgan launched Fresh Truck. It’s a school bus that works as a grocery store on wheels. It’s also an oasis for communities in need. Today, Fresh Truck has two mobile markets. They serve 17 locations in the Boston area. Shoppers can buy apples, sweet potatoes, and other fresh produce.
But Morgan thinks the term food desert doesn’t paint a full picture. “The idea of a food desert implies there is no food,” she says. But, she adds, there are barriers that prevent access to fresh food. One is its high cost. Another is that people don’t know how to use the produce that is available.
Anne Palmer runs the Food Policy Network program at Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore, Maryland. She says getting people excited about food policy can help remove barriers. And this can get healthy food on people’s plates. “The best thing about an issue like this is that you can do something about it,” she says.