The far eastside food desert gets an exciting boost

Jump IN is thrilled to announce the launch of the Heart Smarts program, part of our work with the Food Trust on the far eastside. The program was launched last week to a large crowd of neighbors and important local and community leaders (Mayor Hogsett spoke, as did State Senator Jean Breaux and State Rep Robin Shackleford) at A & I Meats and Produce. We had some great media coverage:

A crowd gathers at A & I market for the Heart Smarts launch
Mayor Hogsett smiles with an A & I employee and Jump IN CEO Julie Burns

The Heart Smarts component of the Healthy Food Retail Initiative (HFRI) is the addition of health screeners and coaches in the participating stores.  Customers can visit with a local nutrition education specialist while they shop. The educators will guide customers through finding healthier options in the store and those customers then earn Heart Bucks (coupons) after each lesson that they can use to purchase that healthy food right away. 

The HFRI began in December, 2017, when Jump IN received a $50,000 grant from the Glick Fund to pilot the Food Trust’s approach to healthy corner stores, training community partners (Marion Co. Health staff, Purdue Extension wellness staff, and Community Ambassadors – neighborhood residents who know the community well) to identify corner stores in Greater Lawrence and the Far Eastside to increase offering healthy options at affordable pricing. The Food Trust is a national organization based in Philadelphia that has established many different solutions to healthy food access challenges, including a proven system of improving the quality of food offered in convenience stores, gas stations, dollar stores and other corner stores – at affordable prices.  Greater Lawrence and the Far Eastside are rated as a severe food dessert; this project offers a solution relatively quickly. Rather than waiting years hoping for a full-service grocery to arrive, this initiative creates access to healthier food within a matter of months. 

A neighborhood resident has a blood pressure screening as part of the Heart Smarts program

The Heart Smarts launch marks nearly two years of boots on the ground work, focused on our far east side neighborhood food access analysis and initial healthy corner store conversions.  Over that time we have secured funding, first the initial grant from the Glick Fund and subsequently a grant from the Anthem Foundation direct to the Food Trust to continue the work.  It has taken a long time to get to this exciting point; for this work to be sustainable and impactful, it doesn’t happen quickly. We are very happy to move on the next phase and see this program helping our neighbors on the far east side. 

To date, the five participating stores in the Healthy Food Retail Initiative are:

  1. A & I Variety Meats and Produce:  8939 E. 38th Street
  2. Marathon I:  9950 E. 38th Street
  3. Marathon II: 4208 N. Post Road
  4. Tienda Morelos:  8989 Pendleton Pike
  5. Lawrence Community Gardens Mobile Farmstand (various locations)

When you find yourself on the far eastside, we encourage you to stop in to these retail outlets, thank them for participating in the HFRI, and purchase some of their healthy offerings.  

A young girl gets some face paint -  a carrot painted on her cheek

Congratulations and thank you to everyone who’s working to make this possible and to improve healthy food access across our city!