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Reno farm provides freshly-picked produce at two corner stores

A man standing in front of a cooler with cherry tomatoes, gallons of milk, and packaged shredded cheese visible through the glass doors.
Lucia Starbuck
/
KUNR Public Radio
Vassar Market’s Hachib Hossain stands in front of the produce available at the store through the Healthy Corner Store Initiative in Reno, Nev., on Oct. 13, 2023.

A Reno farm is providing produce at two corner stores to increase healthy food options for nearby residents.

Reno Food Systems, a five-acre urban farm nestled in a neighborhood along busy Mayberry Drive, grows vegetables, fruit, and herbs. As of last month, some of that produce gets delivered roughly five miles away to a couple of corner stores in Reno. It’s part of Northern Nevada Public Health’s (NNPH) program, Healthy Corner Store Initiative. Farm Manager Lyndsey Langsdale says it’s more effective than pop-up farmers markets.

“We have tried many different ways to get food to people who really need it, who have young children, or maybe our seniors that don’t have easy access to it. People are already going to the corner store as part of their routine, and I really think that not adding a new task to get that food is going to be a better way to go,” Langsdale said.

A woman smiling and holding a small dog on her lap in a greenhouse. Behind her, there are giant tomato plants, fans, and the greenhouse roof and walls.
Lucia Starbuck
/
KUNR Public Radio
Farm Manager Lyndsey Langsdale in the Reno Food Systems greenhouse in Reno, Nev., on Oct. 12, 2023.

Langsdale hopes the colorful array in these corner stores catches people’s attention.

“We’ve got orange and red tomatoes, green peppers, purple eggplant. I want them to be curious and think that tomato is going to go great with that spam sandwich,” Langsdale said.

The initiative began in 2021 with frozen and canned fruits and vegetables. Four stores currently participate. NNPH health educator Amanda Santos says the corner stores must accept SNAP benefits and are located one mile or more away from the nearest grocery store. Many residents walk to these corner stores.

“If people do not have access to healthy foods, they're at a higher risk of chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and obesity. And we see that amongst these communities, where they oftentimes lack access to grocery stores,” Santos said.

A woman is sitting near a large, raised garden bed with signs for basil and chives.
Lucia Starbuck
/
KUNR Public Radio
Northern Nevada Public Health’s Health Educator Amanda Santos at the Community Garden, a partnership between NNPH and Washoe County’s Green Team, at the Washoe County Administration Complex in Reno, Nev., on Oct. 12, 2023.

Reno’s Vassar Market is one of the two corner stores offering fresh produce. Hachib Hossain runs the shop and excitedly shows off cherry tomatoes, green bell peppers, and cucumbers in the cooler.

“It’s helping for Reno’s local farmer, plus it’s helping us also so we can do a little bit [of] business. The main help is the community, so they can come in, instead of grabbing the canned food, they can get fresh vegetables,” he said.

NNPH aims to have healthy food options in 10 corner stores by 2025.

Lucia Starbuck is an award-winning journalist covering politics, focusing on democracy and solutions for KUNR Public Radio. Her goal is to provide helpful and informative coverage for everyday Nevadans.
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