Finding fresh fruits and veggies in a food desert

Published: Jun. 6, 2022 at 6:56 PM CDT
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BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - They say fruits and veggies are a key part of a healthy diet. But millions of Americans live in areas where fresh foods aren’t always easy to get, some of them being in Bay County.

Having fresh ingredients on your plate is a privilege some people don’t think twice about. For others, it’s not that easy.

“You know some families just have a hard time getting to grocery stores that they’re not nearby. They can’t walk to it. Transportation can be an issue. Other things that just make it hard to be able to get to the things a lot of us take for granted,” said Tricia Pearce, Public Information Officer for Bay County Department of Health.

It’s a burden the Bay County Department of Health is trying to ease, by opening up its farmers market for another season.

The market is open to the public Wednesday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. It’s located in the parking lot of the Health Department.

They aren’t the only ones stepping in to help. Bay District Schools is working with Chartwells to keep kids’ plates colorful this summer.

“You need to eat the rainbow. Now that the school year has come to a close, we still have Bay Base sites, we still have summer school, we still have students and children that need to be fed,” Stephanie Werchan, Community Engagement Specialist with Chartwells, said. “And the state and district are very determined to do that.”

Bay District Schools is continuing its summer meals program this year, feeding kids 18 and under at four Bay Base locations. These include Deer Point Elementary, Lynn Haven Elementary, Parker Elementary, and Breakfast Point Academy.

You don’t have to be a student at the school to go get a free meal. You just have to check in with the front desk when you get there, and you have to eat on-site.

A balanced breakfast and lunch will be served Monday through Friday. Breakfast is available from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m., and lunch is available from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.

“Same standards throughout the school year will be met with the fruits, the vegetables, the grains, the proteins,” Werchan said.

It’s everything you need for a nutritious diet, which Werchan said she knows not everyone has access to.

“Because there are food deserts, how else are they going to know? I was really surprised when a child asked me what is that? It was a cucumber,” Werchan said.

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