DISADVANTAGED communities will be given greater access to fresh fruit and vegetables as part of a three-year project being run by the City of Maribyrnong and Western Region Health Centre.
The Maribyrnong Fruit and Veg for All project aims to improve residents eating habits with the introduction of new initiatives and the expansion of existing projects.
Organisers also hope that disease prevention and weight management will result from the initiative.
VicHealth will fund the program, which will cost $70,000 over the next three years. Dietitian Naomi Roberts was employed by the council to coordinate the project.
The project will look at ways to improve eating habits and access to fresh fruit and vegetables, including community gardens, community kitchens, breakfast programs, improved community transport, mobile fruit and veg stalls, bulk buying schemes, home delivery of fruit and vegetables, cooking groups and community education.
She said initiatives could include running a coach service in areas where there is no bus service is to help people reach fresh food outlets.
“Research shows about 14 to 17 per cent of residents do not have a car that means it’s hard for them to access nutritious food,” MsRoberts said.
“Some people cannot walk up to a kilometre and a half, with a child on their hip, with bags of groceries from the bus stop or to a fresh food outlet.
“The disabled, elderly and people with a mental illness also find it difficult to access fresh food.”
Ms Roberts said to reach these groups, the council planned to deliver boxes of fresh fruit and vegetables to places like Western Lodge and the Gordon St high rise flats on a regular basis where items could be bought cheaply.
She added that residents would also be encouraged to develop community gardens.
“It’s a great way for resident to get a fresh supply of food. It’s free, helps with social inclusions and encourages physical activity,” she said.
“It’s a really nice way of encouraging people who are newly arrived to become part of the community.”
For more information contact 9688 0169.