A quick examination of Vigo County alone reveals much about the economic condition of rural Indiana. As of 2015 the poverty rate was 20.4% among households, 25.2% among children under the age of 18. (Stats Indiana, 2017) That means in 2016 there were an estimated 15,400 food stamp recipients, just in Vigo County. Add in Parke and Vermillion Counties, areas the Market serves, and the number multiplies. Considering the correlation between poverty and chronic illness across the U.S., the need for a resource that provides healthy foods to those who are unable to access it on their own is obvious. The government support ends with EBT. It’s up to communities to create solutions to this problem. That means finding a source of funding.

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Photo courtesy of the United Way of the Wabash Valley

Establishing a traveling market was not a new concept, but it was new to the UWWV in 2013. The program had to be built from scratch. With the support of the Vigo County Health Department, the UWWV’s own Healthy by 2020 initiative and the previously mentioned sponsors, a plan was derived that would focus on the delivery of foods to neighborhoods without easy access to healthy options. It was a risky endeavor, requiring sponsors to sign on for three-year agreements. The goal of the Market was to increase consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables by 50% as well as increase access to produce by 75%.

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