Nova Scotia

Halifax considers mobile market to bring fresh food to 'food deserts'

Halifax is considering a mobile market to bring affordable, healthy food to communities that have limited access to fresh fruit and vegetables.

Pilot project would visit Spryfield, Fairview, North Preston, East Preston, Halifax and Dartmouth

The Community Planning and Economic Development Committee plans to discuss a pilot project that would use a Halifax Transit bus with fresh food to visit Spryfield, Fairview, North Preston, East Preston, north-end Halifax and Dartmouth north. (Shutterstock)

Halifax is considering a mobile market to bring affordable, healthy food to communities that have limited access to fresh fruit and vegetables. 

The Community Planning and Economic Development Committee is looking at a pilot project that would use a Halifax Transit bus with fresh food to visit Spryfield, Fairview, North Preston, East Preston, north-end Halifax and Dartmouth north.

These communities are referred to as "food deserts" — places where people must travel considerable distances to get fresh groceries. One recent report found one in five Halifax-area households cannot afford healthy food. 

Dr. Gaynor Watson-Creed, the medical officer of health in Halifax, the Eastern Shore and West Hants, said a mobile grocery store could help.

"Really do some good promotion so that folks know that the bus is going to be there and then invite the community to enjoy," she said.

"In other parts of Canada, what's happened around those buses as they've shown up is mini-markets pop up around the bus, which could be an exciting spin off for this."

If it's approved, the pilot project could last 21 weeks. The mobile market would show up twice a month in each community on Saturday or Sunday for 1.5 hours.

Coun Steve Craig said staff will look into it and bring their findings back to council.

"It's really exciting to see the way that the community is coming together as part of our health communities plan," he said. "It's not a food bank, it's an affordable choice that people can have for healthy food."

The move follows a request from Halifax's medical officer of health and the release of a recent report on food security called Food Counts: Halifax Food Assessment. The report found that one in five households in Halifax has trouble affording healthy food. 

Provincial funding for the pilot has been found and meetings have already taken place with members of each community.

Halifax regional council must approve the use of a Halifax Transit bus before the program can get underway.

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