RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – Mayor Dwight Jones unveiled details of a new shuttle service the city would offer from certain Richmond neighborhoods to area grocery stores. Mayor Jones mentioned the service during his State of the City address Tuesday night.
A press release from the mayor’s office indicated the shuttle service, which would begin on Saturday, February 4, 2012, would make stops in neighborhoods such as Hillside Court, Fairfield, Mosby and Whitcomb.
The mayor’s office said the shuttle service would run for six months and then be assessed. A decision would be made at that time on whether the service should continue.
The shuttle service was recommended by the Mayor’s Food Policy Task Force as a way to give Richmonders easy access to fresh food.
“This is a recommendation that we can act on right away,” said Mayor Jones in a press statement. “Helping city residents’ access healthy and fresh food options tie right in with the City’s healthy lifestyle focus.”
The city indicated The RVA Shoppers’ Shuttle will run the first Tuesday and first Saturday of each month.
The city is providing this service, and GRTC buses will be utilized. Tammy Hawley, spokesperson for the mayor’s office, said that there will be four buses, at cost about $600 each time it is put on a route.
Routes were chosen based on areas that were identified as food deserts–places void of affordable, fresh and bulk food options–high concentrations of poverty, and big population of seniors.
“I deal with diabetes and if you don’t have the proper food you can’t help yourself stay healthy,” said Patricia Williford, who helps her neighbors get to the supermarket to buy healthier foods.
Williford said that this program is what the community needs, not “little corner stores where prices are really high and they really don’t have the proper stuff the tenants out here need.”
The city launched a similar service after Hurricane Irene when people lost power for days. The mayor said that the service worked then, and he believes it will work now.
“These are good things to do. In fact, they are things we have to do,” said Jones.
Many residents use those corner stores because it’s convenient. CBS 6 spoke with the owner of the Mosby Express convenience store. He said while it’s good for people to eat healthier, this new service could impact his business by taking away regular customers.
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