Moline Elementary Students Struggle in "Food Desert"

Healthy eating choices can be hard to find in Riverview Gardens district

Debbie Monterrey
November 16, 2018 - 1:49 pm

Photo provided/Moline Acres Elementary

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Moline Elementary School in the Riverview Gardens district of St. Louis is in a food desert.

That means there aren't food shopping options nearby and the closest grocery store is closing this month. Principal Lisa Thompson says it was important to teach their students about healthy eating, nutrition and making good choices.

"Our students were coming into school eating 'Flamin' Hot Cheetos' for breakfast," Thompson told KMOX's Debbie Monterrey this week. "A lot of times, the reason they had those things was because the closest place to get snacks was the gas station."

Thompson asked St. Louis Metro Market — a city bus packed with produce — to stop at the school for a field trip. Every student in the school was asked to bring $1 and shop. For many of the students, it was an overwhelming experience.

"What we noticed was they had very limited knowledge about fruits and vegetables. They knew apples, oranges...some of them knew about bananas, but it didn't go much further than that."

The experience was such a success, the bus stops by the school every Friday afternoon so the kids can get an after-school snack and bring some healthy produce home for the weekend. The partnership is funded by the Missouri Foundation for Health through the Healthy Schools Healthy Communities Grant. 

Unfortunately, Friday was the Metro Market's last stop of the season for Moline Elementary, but the kids can look forward to the return of the bus in the spring.