THE TAMPA Y VEGGIE VAN
The Veggie Van is a mobile market place that works to meet the needs of individuals and families living in underserved areas of Hillsborough and East Pasco counties. The Veggie Van distributes fresh, nutritious fruits and vegetables in food desert communities, for a nominal fee. A food desert is defined as an urban neighborhood without ready access to fresh, healthy and affordable food. Food deserts are located at least one mile from the nearest supermarket, supercenter or large grocery store in urban areas and more than ten miles in rural areas. Many residents who live in food deserts do not have a vehicle and rely on walking or public transportation.
Currently, the Tampa Y’s Veggie Van serves five of the 40 known food deserts/swamps: Sulphur Springs, Tampa Heights, Lacoochee, Wimauma and Plant City/Dover. Each of these locations has a demonstrated need for nutritional wellness. The Veggie Van makes stops every other week at designated locations based on a schedule decided by the stakeholders in the community.
MORE THAN HEALTHY LIVING
By providing children the basic necessities in life, like food, will help them succeed. For example, if a child is struggling to read, our staff and volunteers tutor that child. However, if the child shows up for tutoring hungry, it will be difficult for him or her to focus and learn. We see it every day in our out-of-school programs, especially in underserved neighborhoods and schools with a high percentage of kids who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. The Veggie Van increases access to fresh produce to those living below poverty line and the working poor. Most importantly, increased access means fewer individuals living in food deserts will go hungry.
WHO WE SERVE
The Veggie Van serves individuals and families who qualify based on children in the household receiving free or reduced-price school lunch and/or individuals/families meeting the threshold of federal poverty levels. Qualified individuals and families also include ALICE populations. The ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) population represents those who are working, but due to child care costs, transportation challenges, high cost of living, etc. are living paycheck to paycheck and may not have access to or be able to afford to prioritize healthier food options.
The Veggie Van is generously supported by: Publix Charities, Bank of America, Joy McCann Foundation, Tampa General Hospital, The Saunders Foundation and Interfaith Social Action Council of Sun City Center.