Heartside Gleaning Initiative (HGI) empowers individuals to become healthier through increased access to healthy foods and nutrition education. We do this by collecting excess produce from farmers’ markets and transporting it to low-income neighborhoods for distribution to individuals, food pantries and free and low-cost meal programs. In neighborhoods with large numbers of low-income residents and no suitable markets to obtain healthy, affordable food, mobile produce vans have proven to be an effective method to increase a community’s intake of healthy food. With increased capacity to collect and distribute fresh fruits and vegetables, HGI will increase access to healthy food for residents living in food deserts, potentially reducing the incidence and severity of obesity and long-term chronic diseases. HGI is different than other food distribution centers and mobile produce vans, because it only distributes healthy fresh fruits and vegetables and everything is free.
Access to affordable healthy food is a basic human right that HGI strives to fulfill in our local neighborhoods. HGI transforms the lives of local residents and families by increasing access to healthy food, empowering individuals to be healthy and building community by connecting low-income residents and farmers in a common endeavor. HGI also reduces food waste and resulting green house gas emissions through redistribution of unsold produce.
What I Will Do With $5,000
The funding will assist HGI in purchasing a cargo van for the collection and distribution of fresh produce. HGI’s reliance upon volunteer vehicles greatly limits our ability to collect and distribute available produce and prevents us from expanding our operations. With a dedicated vehicle, we can accept more produce, glean directly from farms, engage more volunteers and expand the distribution area to include additional food deserts throughout West Michigan.