Grand Rapids, MI (July 19, 2017) – Remarkably, 32,256 Grand Rapids residents live in areas that the USDA has designated “food deserts,” defined as urban areas where it is difficult to buy affordable fresh food. Some prefer to call these neighborhoods “food swamps” since they tend to have an overabundance of unhealthy fast food options, but few healthy options. As a result, residents in these west Michigan neighborhoods suffer disproportionately from chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
In 2016, realizing the vital statistics that affect Grand Rapids’ residents, the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids and Amway joined forces to address the nutritional challenge at hand.
“Our goal has always been to blend our nutrition expertise with a community partner, like the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids, that shares our same passion,” said David Madiol, Amway’s Community Relations Manager. “Amway has a local community focus in two areas: nutrition access and nutrition education. The YMCA addresses these two areas through the Veggie Van program and educational efforts like Healthy U. We are proud to support these initiatives with resources and Amway employee volunteers.”
In 2016, the YMCA Veggie Van, a year-round mobile farmers market, had 23,232 transactions and served more than 20 urban sites each week. It makes stops at community centers, churches, low income housing communities and schools to make sure that affordable fresh fruits and veggies are available to residents. The YMCA’s Veggie Van has been serving greater Grand Rapids with fresh fruits and vegetables since 2011.
The Veggie Van, in conjunction with the YMCA’s Healthy Corner Stores initiative, helps store owners ensure fresh produce is readily available in urban communities, and is making a significant impact on the health of our community’s most vulnerable residents.
“We started with local community need and used that as our motivation to expand a program that is fun, exciting, and that families want to be a part of,” said Nicole Hansen, YMCA Executive Director of Activate. “With the help of Amway we are able to grow the reach of our programs by 5% each year – now increasing access for 16,000 more residents. This partnership is just a taste of the exciting things we have planned for the Grand Rapids community in the months and years ahead.”
The YMCA is happy to accept volunteers to help with the Veggie Van project or the variety of additional programs designed to increase the health of the Grand Rapids community. If you’d like to learn more, contact Nicole Hansen at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Veggie Van schedule is available on the YMCA’s website at https://www.grymca.org//download/July_VeggieVanSchedule_2017.pdf
About the Y
The Y is West Michigan’s leading nonprofit strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Through its seven branches locations, YMCA Camp Manitou-Lin, community outreach programs, and child care sites, the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids is committed to improving the health and well-being of children and families. Y programs impact thousands of lives annually and respond to unique community needs across West Michigan. To learn more, visit www.grymca.org.
Amway is the world’s number one direct-selling business, as ranked by 2016 global sales of $8.8 billion in the Direct Selling News Global 100. Based in Ada, Michigan, USA, Amway produces Nutrilite™ vitamin, mineral and dietary supplements, Artistry™ skincare and color cosmetics, eSpring™ water treatment systems and XS™ energy drinks – all sold exclusively by Amway Business Owners. The company’s annual sales figure includes revenue from direct-selling operations and other business holdings. For company news, visit globalnews.amway.com.