Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation’s Mobile Market Initiative

by Michael Devlin

August 16, 2016

Crates of fresh produce sitting in front of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation's Good Food BusHarvard Pilgrim Health Care has long recognized that a person’s health is not constrained to how and when they access health care – and in fact, that access to preventative measures, such as nutritious food helps to prevent and manage many chronic diseases in the long term. Yet access to fresh, healthy food is often out of reach with a community’s most vulnerable citizens facing difficulties accessing or purchasing the healthy fruits and vegetables that support good nutrition.

That needed to change, and it’s why the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation created the Healthy Food Fund – a three-year, $5.1 million initiative aimed at increasing the distribution of healthy food to families and communities we serve through competitive grants to nonprofit organizations and a fleet of mobile farmer’s markets that sell fresh fruits and vegetables.

Over the past four years, Harvard Pilgrim has launched mobile market programs in Worcester, Massachusetts; Hartford, Connecticut; Lowell, Massachusetts; and Lewiston-Auburn, Maine. With these mobile markets in place, families have access to fresh and local fruits and vegetables in low-income communities. These programs are intended to meet people where they are, mitigating the challenges of transportation that many face and supporting the local communities through nearby sourcing and staffing.

The demand and need continues to grow. This month, the foundation launched a fifth mobile market in the Seacoast region of New Hampshire.

The Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation’s Mobile Market Initiative is filling a need in the community by providing crucial operating funding to local growers and distributors – improving the food environment for families throughout New England and removing availability and cost barriers that prevent families from having access to fresh, healthy food that supports their health and well-being.

Michael Devlin is the Director of Grants and Initiatives at The Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation.