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Free vegetables, fruit offered in University Area food desert

Harvest Hope Park now open Friday mornings
Posted: 10:11 AM, May 24, 2019
Updated: 2019-05-24 14:11:25Z
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TAMPA, Fla. — People living in an area without regular access to fresh fruits and vegetables now have the opportunity to get free produce, picked from a community garden.

The University Area, located near Fletcher and Bruce B. Downs, is considered a food desert. This means residents don't easily have access to a supermarket with fresh food.

Instead, options are fast food and convenience marts where food is often highly processed and not as healthy as food you would cook and prepare yourself.

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The University Area CDC has created a community garden at Harvest Hope Park to help with this problem. It is now open to the public every Friday from 9-11 a.m. where they offer free food.

They have been given a grant to create a Landscape Demonstration Garden so residents can learn how to build their own gardens, using plants they will give them. These are plants that propagate and can be shared in the community for free.

Hunger remains a huge issue in Hillsborough County, where more than 200,000 people are considered "food insecure." That's 16.5% of the county's population.

Florida is fourth in the nation for family hunger. More troubling, 60% of the population in West Central Florida is eligible for food stamps, according to Feeding Tampa Bay.

Many at-risk students won’t eat at all between lunch on Friday and breakfast Monday morning, Feeding Tampa Bay reports.

Veterans also help with the planting at Harvest Hope Park.