Green Carts Offer Healthy Alternatives

By Omar Sheihk

Bronx Journal Staff Writer

“Get your fruits and vegetables, cheap price, cheap price,” Julio Ramos called out across 169th and 3rd Avenues in the Bronx. A crowd gathers around his stand. Many Bronxites have been buying their fruits and vegetables for bargain rates from vendors, due to the scarcity of nearby supermarkets with produce.

These stands, known as green carts, are an effort by the city to provide healthy food to low-income residents. Obesity is a major issue for many New Yorkers, particularly in the Bronx.

From 2003 to 2007, obesity increased in many areas of the Bronx to 25%-30% and over.

Green cart organizers believe that lack of available fresh produce in some lower-income communities has contributed to these rising numbers. “Obesity has been linked to poverty,” says Renee Shanker, director of To Your Health Wellness Program, at Montefiori hospital. “It’s harder to find fruits and vegetables in the Bronx. There are fewer supermarkets and more bodegas with lower quality fruits and vegetables that are less affordable”.

A study revealed that between 2003 and 2007, obesity in NYC increased from 20% to 22%. In the neighborhoods like the South Bronx, those numbers were higher, with obesity jumping to over 30% in 2007. Obesity is linked with high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

The green carts are a result of a 2008 law which established 1,000 permits, 350 for the Bronx. The cost of a green cart is $1800-$2500. Vamos Unidos, a group founded in 2007 to fight for vendor rights, helped many to secure Green Cart permits. One result has been a decrease in the number of arrests for hawking illegally. Previously vendors had sold produce without proper licensing and some were getting ticketed.

Vendor Julio Ramos says Vamos Unidos has been really supportive of vendors in the Bronx and has helped expand their green cart business. Competition remains fierce – with many vendors selling produce side by side. How can these vendors sell produce at such cut-rate prices? Ramos explains they purchase cheap fruits and vegetables from Hunts Point in the Bronx.

Eddie Jimenez, a vendor in East Fordham, believes the Green Carts can have a big impact on Bronx residents. “The problem in our community is that many of the New Yorkers are eating very unhealthily and this causes health-related problems,” says Jimenez.

The carts are also offering much-needed employment opportunities. “A lot of us were unemployed,” says vendor Anil Persuad, who is located on Jerome Avenue. There are not a lot of job opportunities in the area, he says,and for some green carts are a last resort to make ends meet.

A Jerome Street vendor was selling two red apples for a dollar. Surprisingly, the apples were very crunchy, and sweet. A healthy choice for me and the neighborhood.

One Response to Green Carts Offer Healthy Alternatives

  1. Belle May 1, 2019 at 2:56 am

    It would be nice if they had these on the Lower East Side as well. The Prices of fruits and vegetables in every market around here are ridiculous.


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