by Sylvester C. Shorts, Jr.
Arabber (n.)—an itinerant street vendor of produce, typically using a decorated wagon drawn by a pony. The term derives from the 19-century term street Arab has no connection with Arabs. Subsequently after the Civil War, African-American entered the trade of street vending. Today, the remaining Arrabbers in Baltimore are African-American.
Following delivering foods to their reliable customers—like seniors who may have difficulty navigating stores—the Arrabber takes to the street. To alert street passerbyers of the advent, Arrabbers have developed distinctive calls: “Holler, holler, holler, till my throat get sore. If it wasn’t for the pretty girls, I wouldn’t have to holler no more. I say, Watermelon! Watermelon! Got ’em red to the rind, lady.
Baltimore City believes that street vendors can increase the availability of healthy food to underserved (food deserts) Baltimore communities as well as it gives individuals an opportunity for enterprise and for employment, the Baltimore City Food Policy Task Force said.
Even though Maryland is the richest state in the nation, hunger still exists in Maryland, according to the States Census Bureau. The Baltimore City Food Policy Task Force reports that 1 in 5 people in Baltimore live in a food desert (an area where the distance to a supermarket is more than quarter mile); the median household income is at or below 185 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. Over 40 percent of the households have no vehicle available, and the average Healthy Food Availability Index score for supermarkets, convenience and corner stores is low, according to the Nutrition Environment Measurement Survey. In addition, Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap project “identifies individuals who do not qualify for federal assistance programs but still don’t earn enough to have sufficient and consistent access to food.” According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (U.S.D.A,), “Food insecurity is limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods or limited or uncertain ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways.”
Today, it is not unusual for teenagers to be overweight and obese, but also they are at serious risk for the following illnesses as adults: hypertension, heart disease, stroke, type 2-diabetes, and cancer and many other poor outcomes, according Baltimore City Food Policy Task Force 2009 Report. The reasons for these sobering statistics is Baltimore also suffers from food insecurity. In fact, “recent studies by the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg have found that only 10 percent of Baltimore merchants are food supermarkets.” For this reason, Baltimore City residents make the majority purchases at neighborhood corner stores, and items are 20 percent more expensive,” the report finds. In fact, residents will probably not see wheat bread, low fat milk, or fruits and vegetables at the corner stores. The stores are more likely the stores are more likely to sell high fat, high salt and excessively sweet foods than whole milk, wheat bread, low fat milk or fruits and vegetables. In January 2016, the Department of Health and Human Services encourages Americans to limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats, and reduce sodium intake in order reduces chances of sickness and disease and even death.