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Programs helps families living in ‘food deserts’ access healthy food

Posted at 3:49 PM, Jan 11, 2019

What should be a simple task, is a struggle for this mother of four.

Latinique Cooper lives on Washington, D.C.’s southeast side. Her commute to her grocery store is long.

"It's about a 20 minute bus ride, and if I didn't want to do that store I want to go to, that store I wanted to go elsewhere it would be even more of a bus ride,” she explains.

She says once she gets the groceries, carrying them all back to her home is challenging.

Access to grocery stores near her home are limited. So, she's grateful organization's like Martha's Table are able to help.

"The Healthy Markets program at Martha’s Table is our food access program, where we ensure that children and families have the opportunity to have access to fresh healthy food,” explains Lindsay Morton, director of Healthy Markets at the organization.

This market is here to assist low-income families by providing fresh foods in areas that are known as a "food desert" community.

"Essentially, that means that neighbors in these communities are cut off and removed from the opportunity to access healthy food by limited resources in grocery availability through traditional grocery stores and farmers markets,” Morton explains.

In the area, there are only three grocery stores in close proximity. Those stores serve more than 150,000 residents.

Martha's Table market marks the fourth option.

But there's another way this non-profit is helping others gain food access. The organization teamed up with Lyft.

The new pilot program offers 500 families a flat $2.50 rate for rides to and from nearby grocery stores.

For Cooper, this program has been a blessing for a very personal reason.

“My two oldest children, when they got their physicals for school, they were tested and they came up pre-diabetic,” Cooper says. “That was very painful for me, so I knew we had to make some changes with the food I was bringing in.”

Not only can she now afford to get to the store, she's able to bring back better food.

“Since the program started, I’ve been to the store multiple times, and I’ve been able to stock up on everything that I needed,” she says.

It’s a small but mighty partnership that’s helping families in a major way.