Healthy Corner Store initiative brings food to RVA food deserts - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

Healthy Corner Store initiative brings food to Richmond's food deserts

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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

There's a new local effort to solve the problem of food deserts -- neighborhoods without a grocery store. Richmond's Healthy Corner Store Initiative is bringing fresh produce into neighborhood stores and teaching families how to make healthy meals.

Until now, you'd be hard pressed to find many fresh fruits and vegetables for sale in this East End neighborhood.  There's no full grocery store.

"This is a neighborhood that is a low income area," said Sally Schwitters of Tricycle Gardens. "Many folks do not have a car for transportation, public transportation is limited and takes a great deal of time."

A lack of healthy foods can lead to a lot of unhealthy people. "Higher rates of heart disease, diabetes and obesity," Schwitters said.

Song's Market, a convenience store on Mechanicsville Turnpike, is stocked with fresh produce grown by Tricycle Gardens and local farmers.

Song's Market owner Xavier Cibes said, "I thought it would be a great idea if I could get in touch with them and expand our selection."

The Healthy Corner Store Initiative has teamed with Song's and Fine Foods on Government Road, to sell the fruits and vegetables. Other partners like the Bon Secours Class-A-Roll offer demonstrations on making healthy, affordable meals.

"So, as you're seeing collard greens in a store that you haven't seen for years, we're teaching you how to prepare those in multiple ways," Schwitters said.

Organizers hope to expand the program in corner stores throughout Richmond.  But they know it will take time to change a whole neighborhood's eating habits.
 
"We know there have been years and generations of relying on corner stores that haven't had healthy foods," Schwitters said.

"I think it will keep growing and growing and help people eat better and feel better," Cibes said.

Clay Street Market will also start offering fresh produce on July 18. And there are a series of free tasting and cooking demonstrations coming up, including one at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Robinson Theater.

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