March to a Million Meals: Harry Chapin Fresh Force serves Glades County food desert

Reporter: Peter Fleischer
Published: Updated:
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Providing a happy shopping experience for families that don’t have access to groceries. The Harry Chapin “Fresh Force” movement started late last year, and they don’t just bring food. They haul entire stores into areas that need them.

“We need this. The people need this,” claims Kelly Lawrence, who brought her husband and grandson to the Fresh Force giveaway in Glades County.

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Her family has lived in the rural area for years. It’s quiet and they enjoy the peaceful environment. But Harry Chapin child impact coordinator Lindsey Lenhart has a different way of describing it: A food desert.

“A food desert is a place where there is no or limited access,” Lenhart explains. “So, you might not have a grocery store for miles and miles.”

“It literally impacts everything. Everything you do,” Lawrence admits. “You’re feeding your animals, you’re feeding your kids, everything.”

The sight of fresh produce and quality groceries can be hard to find in the Glades County area. Families who spoke with WINK News say they spend more than 30 minutes driving one way if they’re looking for fruits and veggies.

Harry Chapin started the “Fresh Force” food drive last year, bringing their mobile grocery store to areas that need it. Families can pick from produce and healthier options that feel almost impossible to find otherwise, and it’s all free.

Families leave the mobile store with carts worth of food for a healthy, balanced diet. It’s especially important for younger children that are still developing and growing.

“It is really a gift, especially out here, you can’t get to any really accessible place,” Lawrence says.

Dozens of families took a trip through the Fresh Force truck when it stopped in Glades County. Harry Chapin is looking to visit more frequently and hopes to increase the number of food deserts it services as its Fresh Force project grows.

“Those pockets exist in a lot of communities,” Lenhart points out. “Being able to provide food for children in these rural or food desert areas is extremely important.”

“It’s nice! It’s really special,” Lawrence exclaims with a smile. “I wish they could do it everywhere.”

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