DONATE a car and FAMILIES ACCESS food
Low-income families in the Maryland, Virginia, Washington D.C. and Michigan areas are unable to change their financial circumstances without affordable and reliable transportation. Recent studies have shown that not having transportation is one of the leading causes of unemployment and underemployment.
Without a vehicle, workers are limited in their job search, receive fewer promotions and raises due to frequent tardiness from unreliable public transportation, and cannot take extra shifts. Additionally, children in low-income families without a vehicle are less likely to participate in after school and extracurricular activities, significantly limiting their socialization and creativity. Car ownership can have a positive impact for low-income families.
Vehicle Ownership for Low-Income Families
Donating your car to Vehicles for Change will help change a family’s life by giving them the tools they need to succeed. When low-income families have vehicle access, they experience increased wages and better health, and their children have fuller lives. Vehicles for Change relies on donations from community members like you to refurbish vehicles and resell them to eligible families in the area at reduced rates.
With payments as low as $750, Vehicles for Change makes car ownership possible for families all over the Maryland, Virginia, Washington D.C. and Michigan areas when people like you donate a car. Since 1999, Vehicles for Change has provided affordable car ownership for over 5,000 hardworking families. About 75% of Vehicles for Change car recipients experienced higher wages and promotions in the workplace.
The difference job security makes in a low-income household is paramount, but another important benefit of car ownership that is less frequently addressed is access to fresh food. Vehicles for Change provides an easy car donation process to help low-income families succeed and live a healthier life.
How Cars Affect Food Access
Car ownership has a direct correlation to food access because without a reliable means of transportation, many low-income families are forced to rely on the limited food options available in their neighborhood. These options are predominantly prepackaged meals from convenience stores or fast food restaurants.
Not only are these food items unhealthy, but they are more expensive than many fresh food options. Keeping families reliant on these “convenient” foods forces them to spend more of their salary on food that lacks critical nutrition. When recipients gain access to a vehicle, they can drive to grocery stores, farmers markets, and whole food markets to give their family nutrient-rich meals.
In addition, without a car, families are unable to buy nonperishable food items in bulk. If you use public transportation or walk to get to and from the store, you can only buy what you can carry. Having a car while grocery shopping gives families the option to buy in bulk and save money.
Explaining Food Deserts
Food desert is the term used to describe any area where residents are unable to conveniently access healthy food options like fruits and vegetables. The Economic Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture states about 2.3 million people live more than a mile away from a grocery store or supermarket and do not own a vehicle.
Food deserts are often found in low-income areas or where families of color primarily live. Many low-income families in the Maryland, Virginia, and Washington D.C. areas live in locations that could be described as food deserts. In the winter months, when traveling by foot becomes unbearable, families with a vehicle benefit from increased access to groceries and community resources. Donating a car can change a family’s life by providing a working car to drive to and from the nearest grocery store for fresh fruits and vegetables.
Link Between Obesity and Food Access
Many low-income families live in food deserts where fast food restaurants and convenience stores dominate the landscape. Poor diets are unavoidable in this setting for families without a vehicle because residents are tied to the options within walking distance or those accessible by public transportation.
Between sugar, fat, and salt, the ingredients of foods available within walking distance provide little nutritional value. Increased calorie intake combined with limited mobility creates an environment ideal for gaining weight, leading to higher rates of obesity in low income families. Studies have shown there is a strong connection between food insecurity and obesity.
High rates of obesity come with a number of negative health consequences. The most severe risks include heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. A valuable resource for low income families, car ownership is necessary for increased mobility and selection when it comes to accessing fresh produce, lean meats, and healthy grains.
Overall Health and Food Access
Diets filled with nutrient rich fruits and vegetables are tied to a number of health benefits beyond obesity levels. Making meals at home with fresh, whole foods is cost effective while providing family members with a healthy variety of essential minerals, vitamins, and micronutrients. These small (but vital) components, found naturally in whole foods, help bodily systems work better together while promoting a healthy weight. Simply put, your body works better when filled with foods high in nutritional value.
Fast food and prepackaged food items have low percentages of important vitamins and minerals, so no matter how much of these foods you eat, your body still does not receive the nutrients it needs to maintain optimum function. High rates of anemia, high blood pressure, and digestive illnesses are prominent in areas without access to fresh foods and in families without transportation to grocery stores. Vehicles for Change encourages you to donate a car to support low-income families’ health.
Children Benefit from Fresh Food
Much of the current research on food access and health is concerned with the role fresh food plays in childhood development and health. The link between healthy food access and childhood BMI (body mass index) has been well documented by scientific research. Experts say children who do not have access to healthy food are more likely to face a number of health and development related issues, some of which may continue into adulthood.
Also, the ability of children to learn effectively has been linked to a well-rounded diet. Children are particularly vulnerable to the physical and mental effects of inadequate access to fresh foods. When families have access to a vehicle, the overall health of children improves.
Owning a Car Impacts Health
Research is clear: owning a car has a direct link to healthy food access, which in turn has a direct link to overall health. The findings of a recent multi-state study report that, for every additional supermarket within a designated area, consumption of produce increase by about 33% for African Americans and 11% for whites.
When people have access to affordable fresh fruits and vegetables, they will choose better diets, which will improve their overall health. The ability to drive to grocery stores enables low-income individuals to regain control of the health and lifestyle of their families, making good nutrition an attainable goal.
Donate a Car for Healthy Families
When you choose to donate a car you are doing more than just providing workers with a reliable form of transportation and increasing their chance to make a living. Your generous contribution provides low-income parents with the ability to give their children the fresh food they need to develop physically, stay refreshed mentally, and become healthy adults.
The links between inadequate food access and negative health outcomes has been well documented, but many families feel stuck in their circumstances. When you donate a car, you give a family the tools it needs to improve their health and ultimately change their lives.