Mott Haven in the Bronx sits right next to one of the biggest food distribution centers in the world. But much of the fresh produce that goes through the Hunts Point Market simply skips over Mott Haven heading to other areas throughout the city and the country. But now with a little help, one woman is trying to make sure people living here in the South Bronx have some healthy, local produce brought right into the heart of their community.
“There’s a huge childhood obesity problem in the Bronx and I live next to a school and there’s a Mr. Softee that parks outside of the school everyday, and I see kids walking around with ice cream and I think that they need other choices, they need fruit, they need vegetables, it’s a problem and we need to work with our community,” said Lily Kesselman from the Friends of Brook Park.
The Executive Director of the BLK Projek, Tanya Fields, says she was appalled by the mold covered strawberries and wilted produce people in the South Bronx had to choose from when looking for fresh produce.
And in one of the poorest communities in New York City, Fields says she understands that people can’t afford to travel to get fresh groceries.
“People who do want to feed their family better food often times either don’t have the means to go outside of their community and spend more money, or they can’t find it in their own communities and then possibly opt to go with the more affordable option which may not be as healthy,” said Fields.
That’s why Fields wants to bring fresh, pesticide-free, local produce right to the South Bronx.
It may not look like much now, but Fields wants to turn this old school bus into a mobile market.
She’s hoping to raise $15,000 through an online campaign to make the bus run on vegetable oil and install solar panels to power heaters and coolers.
“We’re looking into putting a bullhorn on this baby and getting some really funky music and going out there and instead of selling icey’s and ice cream, that are full of artificial dyes and sweeteners, we’re going to have a couple Vitamixes and get some frozen yogurt and some fresh berries and do some healthy cold smoothies”
Fields has already received grants to buy food and hire a workers.
She’s even partnered with a community farm in Duchess County.
“Our mission as a farm is to make sure that our food can get to people that really need it,” said Jalal Sabur of the Wassaic Community Farm.
“So that we can procure food from them, support their community farms and urban farms and then bring it to the tables of the people in the South Bronx.”
And even if Fields does not raise enough money through her indigogo campaign, the site she’s using to raise the $15,000, she says she’ll use the grant money to remodel the bus and drive it around herself until she can turn it into a self-sustaining model. But she’s hoping others will share her vision and help her reach her goal.