To help improve access to fresh fruits and vegetables in Lenawee County, ProMedica Bixby Hospital and the Lenawee Health Network debuted in 2013 a Veggie Mobile that makes stops at senior centers and other community locations throughout the county in southeast Michigan.
The Veggie Mobile sells and distributes fresh produce – including seasonal offerings from area farmers markets and local producers – as part of a community health program started by the partners. The van was funded through a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant.
Healthy eating and physical activity, supporting healthy choices, and access to health care are three main areas the Lenawee Health Network is focusing on to increase the number of county youth and adults who are healthy and avoid risky behaviors. The Veggie Mobile program also is part of ProMedica’s Come to the Table initiative to work with various partners to end hunger and address it as a health issue.
Access to fresh produce is another concern in Lenawee County, parts of which are designated as food deserts by the federal government. Food deserts are low-income areas without grocery stores offering healthy and affordable food, including fruits and vegetables.
“Increasing the percentage of Lenawee residents who meet the federal recommendations of eating five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day to be at or above the state average is one of our key objectives when it comes to promoting healthier lifestyles,” said Anne Barton, chairperson of the Lenawee Health Network and administrative director of quality at ProMedica Bixby and ProMedica Herrick Hospitals.
Federal guidelines recommend that Americans consume five – nine servings of produce a day. In 2011, just 5% of Lenawee County adults and 15% of youth ate at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily, according to the 2011 Lenawee County Health Assessment.
The 2011 Lenawee County Health Assessment was distributed by the Lenawee County Health Network, which was established in 2011 when a group of community organizations formed a collaborative to improve the health and well-being of Lenawee County residents. ProMedica Bixby and ProMedica Herrick Hospitals, Lenawee County Health Department, Lenawee County Department on Aging, Siena Heights University, and Lenawee Intermediate School District are among members of the network.
For more information about the health and well-being of Lenawee County residents, including nutrition-related data such as obesity rates, view a copy of the 2011 Lenawee County Health Assessment.