C-stores Add Produce to Fight Washington, D.C. Food Deserts

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C-stores Add Produce to Fight Washington, D.C. Food Deserts


WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Food deserts in Washington, D.C. will become smaller through the efforts of non-profit anti-hunger organization D.C. Central Kitchen, which will provide fresh fruit, vegetables and dairy to small business like convenience stores, the Washington Post reported.

Through its Healthy Corners pilot program, the organization will make weekly food deliveries to designated businesses within the food deserts, which are defined as low-income areas at least one mile away from a large grocery store. D.C. Central Kitchen is operating the program in conjunction with DC Hunger Solutions and the city Department of Health.

"They have elders in the community, and mothers. They can't get to the store, so we make sure their corner store has at least a few items they can make a meal with," said Aneika Muhammad, retail program consultant for the project, who made a delivery to Rhode Island avenue's Neighgborhood Market.

Small businesses within food deserts can apply for grants of up to $1,500 from the D.C. Department of Small and Local Business Development, according to the Port. The money goes toward refrigerators, shelving and equipment to display fresh produce. Twenty-one stores have applied to the program so far, stated Muhammad.

In addition to providing the fresh food, Healthy Corners plans to deliver free recipe cards to help consumers who may be unaccustomed to cooking.

"We're looking at doing a holiday recipe card [and] coming up with some recipes utilizing ingredients that we're providing the stores with," said program manager Joelle Johnson. "Like healthier mashed potatoes, or something with peppers and onions."

The problem of food deserts has become a greater concern during 2011. Earlier this year, Walmart announced its commitment to combating the problem, while Walgreens stated it plans to open or convert at least 1,000 "food oasis" stores over the next five years, as CSNews Online reported.