Rabbit Transit working on seasonal farmer's market at transfer center
When the West York Giant store that Steve Mellott relied upon for 40 years closed earlier this year, he said he knew he had to quickly find another way of buying his groceries. The 62-year-old has not driven a car since 2015.
Rabbit Transit officials want to help people such as Mellott with food access. The regional public transportation provider is working toward establishing a seasonal farmers market at its York Transfer Center, 213 W. King St., Rabbit Transit Executive Director Richard Farr said.
Farmers market: The project worked in Adams County at the Gettysburg Transfer Center, Farr explained. His hope is to bring the same initiative – with partnerships with local supporters from WellSpan to York County Food Alliance – to York County in 2018.
“The synergy between the two are dynamic,” Farr said. “Farmers market folks are very excited to relocate to our transfer center. Their patronage has increased, too."
Farr said, specifically, York’s aging population deserves not only access to medical treatment but also access to healthy food.
Shuttle service: Rabbit Transit offers two free shuttles: one in West York and one in East York. Each shuttle adheres to a weekly three-day schedule, which provides riders an opportunity to shop for an hour at two Giant Food store locations in York County.
Mellott, who attends Rabbit Transit meetings at his senior center, said the shuttle helps him since he is now retired, his grocery store has closed and he doesn't drive a car.
"I wish they would make it more than just three days a week, it would help out. Five days a week, whatever," Mellott said.
Theresa DeGroat, 74, of York City, has lived in the area for 20 years and watched as grocery stores have moved outside of the city, she said. Before Rabbit Transit offered shuttles, DeGroat added, she did "a lot of walking" to buy her groceries.
Education: The project is just getting started, but potential partners say they understand its necessity.
"As we know, one of the food-access issues surrounding urban areas is that there's not an abundance of grocery stores," Director of Community Health and Wellness at WellSpan Health Kevin Alvarnaz said.
Alvarnaz said a farmers market at the York County transfer center is a win-win. He said he would support the endeavor, most likely with educational materials.
For example, if people are unsure of how to prep, cook or store fresh produce, he would supply them with instructions.
"A farmers market in that location, where there are a lot of businesses and employees in the surrounding area — they also will come out to it — is really bringing locally grown food to neighborhoods," Alvarnaz said.