Supermarket Shuttle Being Offered in R.I. 'Food Desert'
Low income residents in Rock Island now have a way to get to the grocery store. The U of I Extension's new Supermarket Shuttle program began Sunday.
It's a free shuttle service running every third Sunday each month. The service is for people who are living in what's called Rock Island's 'Food Desert' area, neighborhoods that are a mile or more away from grocery stores.
The new Supermarket Shuttle offers rides for residents in those neighborhoods to get to the Hy-Vee and Aldi's supermarkets on 8th Street.
Organizers say the main goal of this service is to give locals easy access to buying local and eating fresh:
"They'll be able to have a better selection of foods at a more affordable price," said Betty Gavin, U of I Extension Coordinator.
"It's a little more difficult for low income people to do on limited resources and limited accessibility to healthy foods," she explained.
One person who took advantage of the shuttle service on the first day of the program, Marie Charn, says she regularly struggles to find a ride to the grocery store. The mother of two says she plans to continue using the service as long as it's around so she can buy more fruits, vegetables, and other healthy food for her family.
"They will pick me up and bring me back so it's fine. I like it," Charn said.
And, while just a handful of people rode the shuttle this weekend, organizers say they're hoping to extend this service to more families like Charn's in the future.
"Hopefully we'll see a lot more people take advantage of this project for next month," Gavin said.
Organizers say they'll continue this service through September, thanks to a grant from the Department of Agriculture.
They hope to provide a Supermarket Shuttle to Moline neighborhoods next month.