The Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA 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. Through the Veggie Van, we distribute fresh, nutritious fruits and vegetables throughout targeted communities, which are labeled food deserts, for a nominal fee. A food desert is defined as an urban neighborhood without ready access to fresh, healthy and affordable food. Currently, our Veggie Van serves the communities of Wimauma Village, Tampa Heights, Sulphur Springs and Lacoochee. Each of these locations has a demonstrated need for nutritional wellness. The Veggie Van makes stops every other week at all four designated locations based on a schedule decided by the stakeholders in the community.
The Veggie Van is much more than just about Healthy Living. By providing kids the basic necessities in life— like food— we are helping them succeed. For example, if we have a child who is struggling with reading, our staff and volunteers tutor that child. However, if the child then 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. We hope the Veggie Van will make an impact here….as part of the Y’s ongoing efforts to close the academic achievement gap between youth from lower-income households and their middle to upper-income peers.
CHECK OUT THIS MONTH’S SCHEDULE BELOW:
We are excited to invite your family to participate in our amazing new produce delivery program!
To receive your bag of fresh fruits and veggies each family must complete an intake form and bring $1 per bag (2 bags per person).
Requirements in order to qualify for the Veggie Van: we serve adults with children in the household or that are designated caregivers, under 200% of poverty line, free/reduced meals participants and from the targeted neighborhoods.
• Tampa Heights
• Sulphur Springs
Sign-Up Now to Enjoy a bag full of items like: Lettuce, tomatoes, onion, peppers, apples, oranges and potatoes.
El Veggie Van visitará su vecindario con productos frescos disponibles para comprar. Para recibir las frutas y vegetales frescos, basta con completar un simple formulario traer $1 por bolsa (2 bolsas por persona).
Requisitos para calificar para el Veggie Van: servimos adultos con niños en el hogar, en el 200% de la línea de la pobreza, participantes del programa de comida gratuitas/reducida en la escuela y residentes de los siguientes vecindarios:
• Tampa Heights
• Sulphur Springs
Regístrese ahora para disfrutar de una bolsa llena de artículos como: lechuga, tomate, cebolla, pimientos, manzanas, naranjas y papas.
VEGGIE VAN FAQs
What is a Mobile Market Place? A mobile market place is a method of food distribution via a vehicle that provides for direct distribution to individuals and families in need. Mobile market places offer flexibility of delivery and allow providers to target underserved areas. This food delivery method helps to remove barriers to individual access, and expand food distribution capacity.
What is a Food Desert? 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. It becomes easier and less time-consuming to go to convenience stores and gas stations, which provide few, if any, healthy or nutritious food choices. At most of these stores, prices are inflated, food is processed and choices are limited. In metropolitan Tampa, there are 40 locations deemed food deserts. As the Y studied the 40 locations, it became clear that limited access to healthy foods plays a significant role in poor dietary decisions.
Why is a Mobile Market Place Important for Tampa Bay? Only 20 percent of residents in Hillsborough County meet the recommended five-a-day servings of fruit and vegetables. In underserved communities, the statistic drops to below 8.5 percent. People trying to feed their families with lower incomes face a double impact as food costs at stores in food deserts are usually significantly higher than food costs at stores in larger communities. Nutritious, perishable food, such as fruits and vegetables are especially high in cost. The Veggie Van will increase access to those living below poverty and the working poor. By increasing access in food deserts, more individuals will receive food benefits, and less will go hungry. In addition, individuals in need will receive timely access to nutritious food.
What is the goal of the Veggie Van? The goal of the Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA’s Veggie Van – A Mobile Market Place – is to meet the needs of individuals and families living in underserved areas of Hillsborough and East Pasco counties. Our goal is to serve 150 families at each of the four sites which is 600 families a month.
Where does the Veggie Van visit? Through the Veggie Van, the Y distributes fresh, nutritious fruits and vegetables into targeted communities, which are labeled food deserts. A food desert is defined as an urban neighborhood without ready access to fresh, healthy and affordable food. The Y’s Veggie Van has planned distributions in the communities of Wimauma Village, Tampa Heights, Sulphur Springs and Lacoochee. Each of these locations has a demonstrated need for nutritional wellness. Other communities may be added depending on need. Community food distributions take place every two weeks on a rotating basis.
What is included in the Veggie Van packages, and how much does it cost? The Veggie Van distributes pre-packaged produce bags for $1. Right now, there are no limits on portions to be provided to families with children in the designated areas.
How do I qualify for the Veggie Van service? Participants for the program are pre-screened by local partners to include service clubs, schools and churches. Children and families receiving free or reduced-price lunches will automatically qualify and only need to sign up for the service. The families will be pre-qualified based on two things: if the children in the household qualify for free or reduced-price lunch and if the parents meeting the threshold of federal poverty levels. Additionally, qualified families will include ALICE families.
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.
PROUDLY SUPPORTED BY:
The Tampa YMCA is able to launch the Veggie Van thanks to generous funding from the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County, The Joy Foundation and Bank of America.