Health and Human Services

Contacts: Kathy Barton
Porfirio Villarreal

Award to help fresh produce van

travel to Houston food deserts


A colorfully-painted van able to roll into Houston neighborhoods considered food deserts to sell fresh fruits and vegetables at significantly-reduced prices might be right around the corner.

Mayor Annise Parker’s Recipe for Success van initiative on Wednesday earned $25,000 and a second place finish at the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ 2012 Childhood Obesity Prevention Awards.

The Houston Department of Health and Human Services (HDHHS) prepared the entry for the competition on behalf of Mayor Parker and Recipe for Success, a Houston non-profit that seeks to prevent childhood obesity and encourage long-term health.

“A mobile farmers market is one of the fastest ways we expand access to fresh produce in areas of our city where healthy food options are extremely limited,” Parker said. “It helps in our effort to raise children who are not only healthy but also understand the importance of a balanced diet.”

Approximately 36 percent of Houston children ages 6 to 17 are overweight and 19 percent are obese. Fresh fruits and vegetables can help people lose or maintain a healthy weight.

Recipe for Success will promote the project in the city’s food deserts as the Hope Farms Rolling Green Market. It plans to send the van into the community seven days a week once it launches the project.

Food deserts are areas with few or no grocery stores or where most food is available at convenience stores, liquor stores, gas stations or fast food restaurants that sell foods high in fat, sugar and salt. Fresh produce is difficult to find or expensive.

Examples of Houston food deserts include Denver Harbor, the near northeast side, Sunnyside and Kashmere.

Recipe for Success also plans to park the van at HDHHS health centers and multi-service centers and Harris County Public Health and Environmental Services’ clinics.

Note: Gracie Cavnar is founder, president and CEO of Recipe for Success. She may be reached at 281-935-0617.