NY nonprofit delivers veggies where they're needed most

MALONE, N.Y. (WCAX) Studies show Americans in rural areas have a harder time staying healthy. That's because of less access to health care and often times less money to afford balanced nutrition. But a North County nonprofit is trying to reverse those statistics.

It may look like a bus, but it's not your average bus. A stop in Malone is just one of the many locations the Mobile Farmers Market makes each week.

"I think it's great," said Lauren Patnod, a resident of Paul Smiths and a regular customer.

The Joint Council for Economic Opportunities, JCEO, travels through Franklin County in style. The nonprofit has two converted buses that travel to some of the most rural areas including Malone, Saranac Lake, Chateaugay and Fort Covington. All the produce is localy grown.
"We have four greenhouses," said Dick LaVigne, JCEO's director of food services.

The bus is parked in each location for about two hours and they make two stops a day.
"I actually save money by just coming here instead of going out to eat somewhere and eating more unhealthy food," Patnod said.

"Our prices are a lot lower than something you would find in a supermarket," LaVigne said. A big salad goes for $6 bucks.

The program supports itself and any money goes right back into it, whether it's seeds for the following season or new equipment. "We don't make any money from it, we never will, theres no question about that," LaVigne said.

And he says they will continue to do it because they see the need. In Franklin and Clinton County, one in ten people have inadequate access to food. "People just don't have access to vegetables anymore," LaVigne said.

No access is no longer a problem. It's a service the JCEO sees as necessary and hope over the years the service can grow, getting more access to more people in remote areas. "I dont think we'll ever make a buck but were going to provide a real good service that's really needed in the community," LaVigne said.

The Mobile Farmers Market will continue to run for about another week this season.