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Community Law and Business Clinic helps establish Mobile Farm Fresh as a non-profit

SALISBURY – Rowan County Commissioner and local business owner Jon Barber is announcing a new business venture for Rowan and Cabarrus Counites.

A press release provided to WBTV spells out what Mobile Farm Fresh is ahead of the debut at this week’s Rowan County Fair:

In October 2012, Mobile Farm Fresh, a local non-profit and mobile farmer’s market, will be launched in an effort to bring healthy, local produce to areas that do not have easy access to grocery stores and farmer’s markets.

The program will debut at the Rowan County Agricultural Fair from September 17 until September 22. Schools, worksites, and faith-based organizations offer a unique opportunity to reach a substantial portion of residents in food deserts with messages and interventions to improve health and nutrition.

Collaborating with these organizations, Mobile Farm Fresh will expand the availability of a farmers market with a focus on serving low income individuals and neighborhoods.

The US Department of Agriculture did a study regarding food deserts, areas where a substantial number of residents are low income, have low access to a supermarket or large grocery store for fresh foods, and have limited options for transportation. Cabarrus and Rowan Counties have eight census tracts that are described as food deserts. Nearly 50,000 residents of Cabarrus and Rowan Counties live in food deserts, with 41% defined as having low access.

In a most recent study, Rowan County ranked 97 out of a 100 with regards to access to healthy food. Access to healthy foods is measured as the percent of zip codes in a county with a healthy food outlet, defined as a grocery store or produce stand/farmers’ market.

Mobile Farm Fresh’s goal is to become a community outreach organization that encourages others to consume healthy, affordable, and sustainable food. Mobile Farm Fresh will address the health of residents of the food deserts, many of which have the potential for life threatening health problems like diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. Mobile Farm Fresh will be a program that will contribute to Healthy North Carolina 2020 objective of access to healthy foods, a strategy of the North Carolina Division of Public Health’s Prevention Action Plan.

Fruits and vegetables are the chief constituents of a healthy diet. Numerous studies document the general protective benefit of a diet high in fruits and vegetables, showing that such a diet guards against many chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers. Fruit and vegetable consumption has been shown to be higher among low income populations when grocery stores are easily accessible.

“Although Cabarrus and Rowan counties are regarded as an area of great beauty and historical significance, we have health issues of great concern affecting our residents,” says founder Jon Barber.

Mobile Farm Fresh will operate out of a repurposed city transit bus that is environmentally friendly. A year-round farmers market, Mobile Farm Fresh can serve multiple locations in the same day. Initial locations will be in both Cabarrus and Rowan counties. Mobile Farm Fresh will feature not only healthy whole food items, but also locally grown, affordable produce items as seasonably available. Purchases can be made with cash, credit and debit cards, EBT, WIC, and senior nutrition vouchers.

“Mobile Farm Fresh will enhance our in-state specialty crop markets, reduce hunger and malnutrition in North Carolina, and put more income into farm communities by increasing supply to underserved communities,” says Debbie Hamrick, Director, North Carolina Farm Bureau, the largest general agriculture organization in the state.

Joining with community organizations, health care providers, schools, and universities, Mobile Farm Fresh will serve as an education resource on food advocacy and nutritional well-being. It will encourage healthy food initiatives by supporting schools, impoverished & housing authority communities, elderly/senior centers, and senior living facilities. Mobile Farm Fresh will visit area schools with their “Children’s Garden”, which will be a mobile working farm. Mobile Farm Fresh will also provide free health and dental screenings to the residents of the food deserts.

“Using evidence from such sources as “What Works for Health”, we encourage communities to select programs and policies that will have the greatest impact on key health areas. Mobile Farm Fresh is exemplifying what can happen when communities mobilize to take action on key health areas such as obesity,” says Jan O’Neill, Community Engagement Specialist, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

Establishing Mobile Farm Fresh has been a collaborative community effort. Mobile Farm Fresh has gained the support of several community outreach organizations, including Cabarrus Health Alliance, Center for Healthy North Carolina, North Carolina Farm Bureau, Rowan-Salisbury School System, and Rowan Regional Medical Center/Novant Health. The Wake Forest University School of Law’s Community Law and Business Clinic  provided the services necessary to establish Mobile Farm Fresh as a non-profit.

The first of its kind in North Carolina, Mobile Farm Fresh is seeking donors and locations to set up their mobile farmer’s markets in the food deserts. As funding grows, Mobile Farm Fresh hopes to work with communities across the state of North Carolina to implement their own mobile farmer’s market.

For more information on Mobile Farm Fresh, to donate to Mobile Farm Fresh, or inquire as to how you can purchase food items, please contact Jon Barber at jbarber@myfarmfreshmarketplace.com or at 704-754-5334.