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The Healthy Version of an Ice Cream Truck: The NYC Green Cart

February 15, 2012

As a child one of the fondest memories (at least for me) was the ice cream truck jingle slowly growing louder as it approached our neighborhood in New York. That was over a decade ago.

Today there is much awareness in vending-machine type foods and “energy-dense food with low nutritional value”, and the health consequences of such eating habits. To my finding years later, the Scooby-doo popsicle (with gumballs as eyes) that I used to eat was a prime suspect. Nowadays my health-conscious mind conjures up images of high sugar content, cavities, and obesity whenever I think of those ice cream treats.

The answer to the lack of availability of healthy food options in New York’s boroughs is the NYC Green Cart program, which rings similar to the ice cream truck traveling from neighborhood to neighborhood bringing delicious treats to the children. Only in this instance the NYC Green Cart’s treats are strictly vegetables and fruits.

The NYC Green Cart program seeks to bring neighborhoods high quality and reasonably priced produce that they would otherwise have limited access to. Since its launch in 2008, it has had remarkable success with citizens in low-income communities of East/Central Harlem, North/Central Brooklyn, and South Bronx wanting more variety and convenience – as underscored by several focus groups and vendor interviews (Citizens’ Committee for Children).

The results from the first few months are in: in the short term, many people have opted for these green carts as a viable option, second only to going to the supermarket, which are generally far and inconvenient to get to. In the long term, the focus would be finding a system that provides an incentive for more food vendors to turn into a ‘Green cart’, more advertising on this healthier alternative, EBT and WIC accepted form of payments, and reasonably price, good quality vegetables and fruits. The longevity for the “Green Cart” is the next step for this green and healthy option to flourish.

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