A new program started on Wednesday to help low-income families living in so-called "food deserts" in Winnipeg's inner city.

Food deserts are areas where people have little or no access to grocery stores, and neighbourhoods like the North End and West End are considered to have been "abandoned" by grocery store chains, says a local non-profit group.

The North End Food Security Network says the closest supermarket is usually too far for families in that area who rely on public transportation.

Jasmine Tara, who co-ordinates the program in Winnipeg, says 200 boxes of fresh produce will have been delivered in the inner city by the end of the day Wednesday.

"I do see a lot of kids eating the 99-cent pizza and wedges and chicken stuff from the convenience stores. A lot of people rely on the cheaper, fastly-processed foods," she said, adding that she hopes access to better food will change that.

Vanessa Beauchamp, a mother of three who lives in the city core, said produce at the nearby convenience store is too expensive.

She added that travelling to the nearest Real Canadian Superstore takes too long — 45 minutes by bus, each way.

"For this program to be in place, it makes it easier for me to get the foods that I need instead of, you know, going without," she said.

A shuttle service to grocery stores will be offered to families, free of charge, starting in the next couple weeks, according to the group.

"When it's –30 C, it's really hard to use public transportation to go all the way to Sobeys, Extra Foods or Safeway if they live too far," Tara said.