Record Turnout for Veggie Van’s New Stops
The Tampa YMCA is doing more to nourish the minds and bodies of deserving kids and families. This month, the Y’s Veggie Van – A Mobile Market Place expanded to include two new stops in Plant City and Dover.
“Many people don’t have the transportation that you and I take for granted,” says Plant City YMCA Executive Director Zach Hilferding. “It’s not as easy to run down to Walmart if you don’t have a vehicle. It’s not as easy to run down to our great farmer’s market if you can’t drive there. We take for granted, too, being able to go a mile or two away from the grocery store but that’s just not the availability for so many of these people.”
Through the Veggie Van, the Tampa Y distributes fresh fruits and vegetables into targeted communities, which are labeled food deserts, across Hillsborough and East Pasco counties. A food desert is defined as an urban neighborhood without ready access to fresh, healthy and affordable food.
The new stops include Dover Elementary in Dover and Marshall Middle School in Plant City. The Veggie Van sold out within the first 20 minutes during its first stop. “It was pretty amazing to see the line just curve around,” says Veggie Van Program Director Elizabeth Roman. “The line went all the way down the street. They were there before I had even got there. I’ve never seen that before. It caused quite an impression on me.”
Elizabeth says she would like to start partnering with local farmers to provide locally grown produce to those in need. “Plant City’s reaction to the van was amazing,” exclaims Elizabeth. “We always need more volunteers. I am positive this is going to continue to grow. I think it’s going to be one of the best stops yet.”
In addition to Plant City, the Y’s Veggie Van distributes produce in the communities of Tampa Heights, Sulphur Springs, Wimauma Village and Lacoochee every two weeks on a rotating basis. Each of these five locations has a demonstrated need for nutritional wellness. The Veggie Van is possible thanks the Joy McCann Foundation, Bank of America, Humana Foundation, Publix Charities and Walmart. To learn more, click here.
Pictured above: After expanding service into Plant City, the Tampa YMCA’s Veggie Van sold out within 20 minutes.