The Veg Van: Refurbished 'Milk Float' Fights Food Deserts

Bioregional veg van photo

Image credit: Bioregional Development Group

The concept of food deserts, or urban areas where fresh, nutritious food is hard to come by, is pretty well known. These are areas where convenience stores, gas stations and liquor stores stock plenty of chips, candy and other snacks—yet getting hold of an apple can be a major challenge. But it doesn't have to be that way. Good Magazine already covered some great ways that students are fighting food deserts in Los Angeles. And now a new initiative in London is also working to transform access to fresh local produce. And it's doing so in a renovated battery-powered vehicle.The Veg Van is the brainchild of the Bioregional Development Group, the same people who brought us the low-emission housing scheme BedZED, the ultra-localized recycling of Local Paper for London, decentralized charcoal production, and Tree Stations for utilizing urban forestry waste.

Now The Veg Van, a refurbished battery-powered 'milk float', will be parking up in a local railway station car park every Wednesday and providing commuters with fresh, seasonal, local produce. It will also be touring schools, and it may even sell produce grown by school children.

Anna Francis, One Planet Food Manger at BioRegional says that the scheme is in response to a clear demand:

"We're really excited to be starting this essential service in Hackbridge; a recent survey showed that, 94 per cent of local residents said they were concerned about eating healthily but most have to drive to get to fruit and veg and only 40 per cent of local adults say they are getting their 'five a day'."

"We're linking up with local growers such as the community farm to bring super fresh, seasonal food to the area. We hope that the van will become part of people's weekly shop and that others will be inspired to set up similar projects around the UK."

As a somewhat topical aside for those of us in the USA, it's good to see the project getting funding from the National Health Service too. The more that can be done to encourage healthy eating and lifestyle change, the less we have to spend on health care. And that should keep everyone happy, right?

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