On Wednesday morning, I was joined by business and education leaders to announce details of Baltimore City’s new Get Fresh Lexington initiative, a comprehensive new strategy aimed at increasing the availability of healthy food options at Baltimore’s landmark public market.
Get Fresh Lexington includes plans to increase the number of carry-out food establishments that sell healthier choices, to improve access to local produce, and to increase consumer demand for healthier dining options.
We know some communities in Baltimore suffer from high incidences of heart disease and diabetes. A recent evaluation by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Center for a Livable Future found 20 percent of Baltimore residents live in a food desert. Additionally, data from the Health Department’s 2011 Neighborhood Health Profiles show that the area around Lexington Market has the highest density of prepared food sources, such as fast food restaurants and carry-outs.
We are making it a priority to work closely with Lexington Market to increase the number of healthy food choices and make it easier for everyone to make good lifestyle choices. Lexington Market is a key part of the culture and history of Baltimore, and Get Fresh Lexington marks one of the many efforts underway to grow our great city.
The Get Fresh Lexington Market initiative has four key strategies:
- Implement a Healthy Carryout Strategy: Transform existing carryout vendors into healthy carry-outs offering and promoting healthy, affordable foods.
- Increase Demand for Healthy Food: Increase consumer demand through promotion of healthy items through healthy menu labeling, combination meal deals, consumer focus groups, community food assessment, and targeted marketing strategies.
- Create Local Farmer Day Stalls: Change current lease agreements to allow for day stall leases so local farmers can attend the market on a daily basis during the growing season, replicating the Reading Terminal Model.
- Establish a Healthy Food Fitness Hub: Build the market as a central resource for healthy eating and community health through promoting nutrition education and physical activity.
To launch this initiative, we unveiled new carry-out menus and signage for businesses in the market, which serves over 2.6 million customers every year. The new signs will make it easier for customers to identify healthier food options at participating Lexington Market vendor stalls. Get Fresh Lexington will serve as a prototype for a citywide healthy public market strategy that will be scaled up to work with over 100 carry-out vendors across Baltimore’s six public markets.
For more information about Get Fresh Lexington, visit the Baltimore Food Policy Initiative’s website.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me at my website or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow the Mayor’s Office and be a part of the conversation on Facebook or Twitter.
Mayor, City of Baltimore