Reading, PA - A Healthy Food Desert?

We asked our Focus Groups, "What are the barriers that keep your family from eating foods that are the foundation for a healthy lifestyle - fruits and vegetables?" Given Reading's poverty rate of 40%, it was no surprise that many respondents said, "We can't afford to purchase non-processed, fresh, healthy foods."

Due to tight budgets, many of our residents have to buy cheaper "convenience" foods containing refined wheat, added fats, and added sugars, but few essential nutrients. Be Bold Take Charge is working with Reading civic groups and businesses to improve access to healthier foods - without emptying residents' wallets.

How we plan to help:

  • Through this website, we will encourage and advise people to start home and community gardens.
  • Using social media, we will create a campaign that encourages restaurants and grocery stores to donate good food that might otherwise be thrown out.
  • We have a property in downtown Reading where we hope to open a healthy food cafe and host health fairs and similar events.
  • Continue to partner with Penn State Health to develop other healthy eating initiatives similar to VeggieRx (see below).


Be Bold Take Charge partner Lisa Weaver teamed with Penn State Health St. Joseph to launch VeggieRx at the PSHSJ Downtown Campus at 6th and Walnut. VeggieRx is a program that educates patients and medical students on healthy eating with a focus on fresh produce and whole foods.