Tina Trenkner is the Deputy Editor for GOVERNING.com. She edits the Technology and Health newsletters.E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
New York City's Green Carts provides a produce oasis in areas where fresh food is often in short supply.
Food deserts, areas with many fast-food outlets and few shops to buy healthier foods like fruits and vegetables, often contribute to higher obesity and diabetes rates in those areas. In 2006, New York City started an initiative to encourage bodegas, popular small grocery stores, to offer more produce and reduced fat milk. In 2008, the city started providing permits for Green Carts, street carts offering fresh whole fruits and vegetables in underserved areas to encourage healthier food consumption. City estimates predict that the carts will make it easier for 75,000 New Yorkers to improve their health. Current and future carts are located in designated neighborhoods within the five boroughs (see right), and each cart operator with a Green Cart permit can only set up shop in one borough. The New York Times reports that 200 Green Carts are currently on the streets, and 1,000 permits in total will be distributed. Applications are no longer being accepted for Green Cart permit waiting lists, but if space becomes available in the future, information will be posted at nyc.gov/greencarts and through the city's 311 system.
Updated June 16, 2009: The Atlantic's Corby Kummer published a blog post about states and cities providing wireless card readers to farmers' markets located in food deserts so that food-stamp cardholders can purchase produce. Read the blog post.