Tackling the food desert dilemma in Cobb County

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060627 - Loxley, Ala. -- Peppers for sale at the Burris Farm Market in Loxley, Ala Tuesday, June 27, 2006. (LOUIE FAVORITE/AJC staff))

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Across America, thousands of families don’t have access to affordable fruits, veggies and other healthy foods. Many live in so-called food deserts where there’s simply no grocery stores or other places close enough to buy healthy fare.

Community leaders in Cobb County, however, may have come up with a solution to this perpetual problem. Enter: Farm Fresh Market.

In 2014, the local public health department partnered with the YMCA and a group of organizations called Cobb2020 to create a farmers market that would sell low-cost fruits and vegetables in an impoverished area.

The effort focused on the 30168 ZIP code where there were no grocery stores and where nearly one-third of residents lived below the poverty level.

Using grant dollars from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the group sold fruits and vegetables at three sites — the parking lots of two apartment complexes and one community recreation center. Each site was open once per week from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Customers chose 10 to 15 items, such as apples, broccoli and collard greens, and paid a set price of $5.

A majority of shoppers said that the Farm Fresh Market made it easier and less expensive to buy fresh fruits and vegetables for their families. And roughly two-thirds said the market made it easier for their families to eat healthier.

The authors of a case study on the project called the Farm Fresh Market “a feasible and acceptable way” to increase access to healthy foods in communities.

Do you live in a food desert? Find out here.

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