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Duval Teens Sell Fresh Produce To JTA Bus Riders

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Lindsey Kilbride
/
WJCT News

 

A group of Jacksonville teens are hoping their new produce stand will make bus riders healthier.

Students with the leadership nonprofit I’m a Star Foundation will be selling fresh fruit and veggies at downtown’s Rosa Parks Transit Station.

 

Locally grown bell peppers, greens and tomatoes were on display in the middle of the big station downtown Wednesday. It’s a preview of the weekly market, run by students from foundation.

 

I'm a Star is made up of Duval students 11-to-18 years old. They identify community issues, like homelessness and health, and do something about them.

Raines High senior Larissa Houston says all the projects are student run.

“Everyone works well together no matter what group you’re in,” she said. “We just have a lot of different ideas and we see are strengths and our weaknesses and we combine that way.”

Because of that hard work, the Jacksonville Transportation Authority is asking the students to run the market.

Houston said something she read in the Center for Disease Control Youth Risk Behavior Survey really stuck with her.

“It said that we are the generation that might not outlive our parents, and that’s what really sparked it into us that we need to start something now because we don’t want that to happen. We don’t want that to become true,” she said.

JTA CEO Nat Ford said many bus riders live in areas without grocery stores. And Duval County Health Director Doctor Kelli Wells said people in "food deserts" have access to doughnuts and cinnamon buns at mini marts, but not healthy foods.

 

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Credit Lindsey Kilbride / WJCT News
I’m a Star Foundation students sell fresh fruits and veggies to Jacksonville bus riders, Wednesday.

She said that’s a problem because it increases people’s risk of acquiring chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes.

“The number of folks I’ve see who’ve lost limbs, who are going to dialysis now three times a week, who aren’t able to take care of themselves independently because they’ve have strokes, if they knew  the risk that living in a food desert was putting them in, they would have supported an initiative like this long ago,” Wells said.

The students plan to eventually grow their own fruits and veggies in hydroponic and aeroponic towers.

The Rosa Parks Station produce market officially opens Friday, July 15, and continues every Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.