Many Arizonans do not have access to healthy food options, which can lead to chronic health issues such as diabetes or obesity. To make a change and provide resources so residents have access to basic nutritious foods, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona (BCBSAZ) is expanding its partnership with the Discovery Triangle Development Corporation to launch a new Farm Express mobile market. This service delivers affordable produce directly to communities with limited or no access to fresh and healthy options.
BCBSAZ has supported the Farm Express mobile produce market (formerly known as Fresh Express) since it launched in 2014. The minibus is the second vehicle from Farm Express, increasing the delivery area and extending into neighborhoods without grocery stores or other healthy food sources. The minibus, once a standard passenger bus, has been retrofitted with shelves and a check-out stand to store fresh fruits and vegetables, which are sold to residents in the Central Phoenix, Sunnyslope, and North Phoenix areas at a very low cost.
“We wanted to help Farm Express grow and serve more individuals and families,” said BCBSAZ President and CEO Pam Kehaly. “Through our Nourishing Arizona program, we are tackling food insecurity and teaching people how diet impacts health. Farm Express shares in this mission, and introduces the opportunity for more Arizonans to get fresh food on a regular basis.”
Farm Express is celebrating its fourth anniversary and a new name, which aligns more closely with the organization’s focus on increasing access to Arizona-grown fruits and vegetables. Through this program, Farm Express makes visits to schools, senior centers, apartment complexes, health clinics, and other gathering places throughout Phoenix and Tempe. Over the past four years, Farm Express has sold close to 220,000 items and made more than 1,000 stops. In addition to providing access to healthy foods, the program distributes cookbooks, nutrition pamphlets, and healthy eating guides so consumers know how to prepare these fresh foods and incorporate them into their meal planning.
“BCBSAZ’s support helps us reach more people and provide them with high-quality produce,” said Alisa Lyons, CEO of the Discovery Triangle Development Corporation. “We’re grateful for their commitment to helping solve this important community issue.”