Fresh Beginnings, a healthy initiatives program recently awarded a $1 million grant from our foundation’s Challenge for a Healthier Louisiana, took part in the official launch of a new Food Access Policy Commission. The group is a task force of community leaders charged with taking a swipe at food deserts plaguing impoverished regions of East Baton Rouge Parish. Mayor Kip Holden, on hand to kick off the event, spoke about the impact that living just a mile away from a full-service grocery store can have on eating habits, noting, “One mile may not sound like a long way. But if you have no form of transportation, trust me, it’s a long way to travel” to pick up that night’s dinner, let alone that week’s groceries, he said. Fresh Beginnings is a wellness initiative targeting East Baton Rouge, which currently grapples with a 40% poverty rate. And the new commission is the latest innovative approach toward improving health standards in the community, the mayor said. “In fact, ” Holden said, “I believe The Food Access Policy Commission will not only help us implement sustainable solutions for our community, but it will serve as a model for other communities across this nation.”
Commission members include representatives from Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Wal-Mart, Baton Rouge Area Chamber, Latter & Blum Realtors, the Louisiana Budget Project and LSU’s College of Agriculture.
So far, plans call for working with small corner markets to sell more fresh fruits and vegetables, develop rotating mobile markets to sell farm fresh foods, and increasing weekly farmers’ markets. The commission will meet monthly to develop policy recommendations and share ideas — so check back with our Challenge Grant News site for regular updates on the commission’s progress!