Residents of the North End and Broadway Neighborhoods in Newport have expressed that limited transportation is a problem when shopping for healthy food. Grocery stores containing fresh, healthy and affordable foods are out of reach for many Newport residents. Because of this, only 19% of residents in the North End eat fruits and veggies more than once a day.

The Newport Health Equity Zone (HEZ) Fresh Zone initiative is working to provide options for residents to access fresh fruits and vegetables on a more consistent basis. One option they are initiating is to bring vegetables and fruit closer to residents on a regular schedule.

On Thursday, May 10 at 11 am the HEZ will launch the first Fresh Zone at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center. The Fresh Zone is a portable fruit and vegetable stand. It will travel to locations that are more accessible to residents. Members of the HEZ Food Access group will assist in identifying the dates food pantries offer fruits and vegetables.

“We are excited to have traveling displays that will give fresh food options to our community,” said Jazmine Wray, Food Access Certified Community Health Worker.  “Currently we have two traveling Fresh Zones kits and we are hoping to add more; we would like to add more locations as well.”

By creating Fresh Zones in multiple locations Newport residents will have easier access to fresh, affordable produce. From now on, when you see a sign for a Newport HEZ “Fresh Zone,” you will know instantly the food you see is fresh and healthy. Fresh Zone locations will also have locally grown foods.   For working adults, families, and seniors with limited mobility, this means shopping for fruits and vegetables just got easier. Farmer’s Markets are another convenient place to shop fresh, healthy, and local. The Newport HEZ Fresh Zone initiative will increase visibility of local farmers markets, so you never miss an opportunity to eat fresh. Look for Fresh Zone signs around town or visit Newport HEZ on Facebook for updates on times and locations.

The HEZ is hoping that the community and local businesses will promote this important initiative by sponsoring a Fresh Zone mobile kit.  These first two kits were sponsored by Worldways Social Marketing located in Newport. To learn more contact 401-846-5263.

Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What's Up Newp. He was born and raised in Rhode Island and graduated from Coventry High School. He serves as Vice President of Fort Adams Trust and serves on the Board of Directors for Potter League for Animals. Ryan also is currently the Senior Editor - North America for Mountain News, publisher of OnTheSnow. Ryan is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers and North American Snowsports Journalists Association (NASJA).