YMCA’s Veggie Van an oasis for West Michigan’s food deserts

Posted at 4:15 PM, Mar 30, 2015
and last updated 2015-03-30 17:12:51-04

MUSKEGON, Mich. -- 23.5 million people live in areas the U.S. Department of Agriculture labels as food deserts. Often people living in food desert areas are only served by fast food restaurants and convenience stores, with a lack of fresh fruits and vegetables.

There are many communities in West Michigan where it's hard to find fresh and affordable produce, but the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids has answered the need with their Veggie Van.

"We're here to deliver healthy, fresh, local food to communities called food deserts. So places where they don't have access to fresh, local and affordable food,"  says Stephanie Brooks, driver of the Veggie Van.

When the local store is a convenience store, with usually unhealthy processed options, the veggie van is a treat to see.

Charlie Matthews, a Muskegon resident and Veggie Van shopper says, "This is fun and it's great, just a chance to get out and to a lot of people that aren't getting out to get their vegetables have an opportunity to do it, so it's fantastic."

Matthews says he's even lost weight since buying food from the Veggie Van.

Because the Veggie Van is a non-profit organization it is able to sell fruits and vegetables at wholesale prices, giving the community a cheaper option for fresh produce.

The Veggie Van loads up and travels to retirement homes, human services offices and neighborhoods. Find out where the van will be next.