Access to Healthy Food

Access to and consumption of healthy food is a critical factor for improving the health and economic well-being of our community. Many residents are living in neighborhoods without ready access to fresh, healthy and affordable food. They live in food deserts. The nutritious food most of us take for granted is not readily available.

The Flint Water Crisis has made this issue even more relevant. One of the leading interventions for those exposed to lead is to consume appropriate amounts of healthy, lead-mitigating foods.

We’ve been tackling this issue for three years through the efforts of our food system navigator. Through this work our local food system is better coordinated and organized to increase access to healthy food. The Flint Fresh Mobile Market and Flint Fresh Food Hub are significant examples of our progress. We’re proud of the work we’ve accomplished with disparate components of the supply and distribution chain to increase access to healthy food for Genesee County residents.

Bobby Blake, Flint Fresh Mobile Market Assistant Manager​

Bobby Blake, Flint Fresh Mobile Market Assistant Manager​

Sharing Goodness

Bobby Blake knows what it means to live in a food desert. “When the grocery stores left town, there was no place to buy fruits and vegetables,” he said. “I had to get on a bus and travel a long distance just to feed my family.”

When Bobby first heard about the Flint Fresh Mobile Market, he thought it was a great solution to the problem he and thousands of Flint residents faced--lack of access to healthy food. The Mobile Market is a converted MTA bus that travels around the city setting up a mini-farmer’s market at 10 different sites. Today, Bobby is the assistant manager.

“We believe access to food is a matter of human dignity,” said Pam Bailey, Director of Fundraising for the YMCA of Greater Flint, one of the projects collaborating organizations, and President of the Flint Fresh Board of Directors.

The Community Foundation is also one of the partners and we invested $93,000 towards the project in 2016. Support from partners helped cover start-up costs and keeps the prices affordable for locals. In May, Flint Fresh rolled out its veggie box delivery program, and it plans to add an additional mobile market serving 10-15 new sites to its weekly route–making an even greater impact on the community’s food needs.

“People are really appreciative,” said Bobby. “They are excited and want to know how to support us. I shop at the market too, so I’ve benefited from it as well.”