LAKE WALES, Fla. — Not knowing where your next meal is coming from can lead to a lot of stress in life. The options for one neighborhood in Lake Wales are very limited, but now there’s a solution… on wheels.

Genevieve Folsom often depends on her feet to get her where she needs to go. The Northwest Lake Wales resident says she walks several miles to work weekly.

“A lot, I walk a lot,” Folsom said. “I’m on foot, and I work at Walmart, so that’s a long walk.”

A new bus service is now available for people like Folsom who don’t have access to a personal vehicle.

The City of Lake Wales is partnering with local area transit provider Citrus Connection to provide a community circulator for residents in Northwest Lake Wales.

“Really the first of its kind outside of Lakeland where it just operates in and around Lake Wales to focus on shopping, employment, medical, groceries,” said Tom Phillips, executive director of Citrus Connection.

The bus will not only connect people directly to healthy food options but also to the health department.

A recent study by the Department of Health-Polk found that residents in the Northwest area experience high rates of food insecurity, behavioral health concerns, and health inequity.

“At one time, there were retail options, restaurants, groceries, and shopping in this district, and they have all gone away,” said Keith Thompson, Lake Wales City Commissioner.

It will cost $1.50 for adults and .75 cents for seniors, students, and people with disabilities to ride.

The hope is that this new transportation service will improve residents’ quality of life in a food desert.

“That would be very helpful; it would take up a lot less time. Very, very helpful,” Folsom said.


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