New York Daily News

Bus may produce change


MR. SOFTEE, get ready to meet your match. The veggie bus is coming to town.

A team of farmers and healthy food advocates raised enough money this month to finish preparing the South Bronx Mobile Market, a bus that will serve as a block-by-block greenmarke­t in a neighborho­od that has long been noted for its dearth of healthy food.

“I don’t have any beef with Mr. Softee; I just think we need alternativ­es,” said Tanya Fields, 32, the founder of the BLK ProjeK, a Hunts Point-based community group that works to bring healthier food to the area.

The group plans to work with Wassaic Community Farm in upstate Dutchess County that runs programs to bring its vegetables 90 miles south to benefit city dwellers. Its produce will be available to as many as 300 people a week in the South Bronx, beginning in late July.

Work on the 30-foot bus is still underway up at Wassaic farm. It’s been painted with swirly leaves and converted to run on used cooking oil, but the refrigerat­ion still needs to be installed. Fields plans to put a solar panel on the roof, and it will blare music like an ice cream truck.

Food will also come from Harlem-based Corbin Hill Farm, which works with upstate growers to distribute produce uptown and in the Bronx.

The point is to address health issues that plague the Bronx, which has the highest rates of obsesity and diabetes-relat- ed mortality in the city, according to the city Health Department.

Diabetes is twice as common among obese New Yorkers, the agency noted, and residents of poorer neighborho­ods are more likely to be afflicted.

The city announced Wednesday that it’s expanding Shop Healthy NYC, another program designed to beef up residents’ access to good produce, to Mott Haven, Hunts Point and Longwood.

Both developmen­ts portend better nutrition by working to improve the food delivery system, from production and distributi­on to retail sales and consumptio­n.

“Someone smart would say, ‘You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, you just have to put rims on it,’” said Fields, who launched the BLK ProjeK five years ago to address the lack of access to affordable healthy food in Hunts Point.

She thought up the idea to buy a bus after hearing about the success of mobile green-markets that were popping up in such cities as New Orleans and Detroit.

Nobody knows how the community will receive the flamboyant­ly painted bus, but Fields said the produce will be priced comparably to what supermarke­ts are charging for lesser quality produce, and customers will be able to use food-assistance cards. Ethnically favorable foods will be mixed in, too, so as to please the widest range of palates, and the group will tap city food distributi­on centers to procure some items grown outside the region.

“People want yucca,” Fields said. “They want platanos. They want coconuts.”

 ?? Photo
courtesy BLK Projek ?? BLK ProjeK director Tanya Fields shows off Bronx Mobile Market bus outside her Lafayette St. office in Hunts Point.
Photo courtesy BLK Projek BLK ProjeK director Tanya Fields shows off Bronx Mobile Market bus outside her Lafayette St. office in Hunts Point.

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