Supermarket Shuttle Being Offered in R.I. 'Food Desert' - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Supermarket Shuttle Being Offered in R.I. 'Food Desert'

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A new shuttle service that began Sunday in Rock Island is offering low income residents a ride to a the grocery store, increasing their access to healthier food options.

The U of I Extension's new Supermarket Shuttle program is a free shuttle service that will run the third Sunday of each month. The service is for people who are living in what's called Rock Island's 'Food Desert' area, neighborhoods that are a mile or more away from grocery stores.

The new Supermarket Shuttle offers rides for residents in those neighborhoods to get to the Hy-Vee and Aldi's supermarkets on 8th Street.

Organizers say the main goal of this service is to give locals easy access to buying local and eating fresh:

"They'll be able to have a better selection of foods at a more affordable price," said Betty Gavin, U of I Extension Coordinator.

"It's a little more difficult for low income people to do on limited resources and limited accessibility to healthy foods," she explained.

One person who took advantage of the shuttle service on the first day of the program, Marie Charn, says she regularly struggles to find a ride to the grocery store. The mother of two says she plans to continue using the service as long as it's around so she can buy more fruits, vegetables, and other healthy food for her family.

"They will pick me up and bring me back so it's fine. I like it," Charn said.

And, while just a handful of people rode the shuttle this weekend, organizers say they're hoping to extend this service to more families like Charn's in the future.

"Hopefully we'll see a lot more people take advantage of this project for next month," Gavin said.

Organizers say they'll continue this service through September, thanks to a grant from the Department of Agriculture.

They hope to provide a Supermarket Shuttle to Moline neighborhoods next month.