Improving urban inhabitants with access to fresh produce

djm428's picture

Peaches and Greens, a local produce grower in Detroit, is bringing fresh grown fruits and vegetables to urban Detroit neighborhoods in converted ice cream trucks.  Residents can line up to purchase produce similar to  kids lining up for popsicles.  Click on the link to read the article.

 

http://bit.ly/12ZZgy

 

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Peaches and Cream Van in Detroit

Michael Jones's picture







In response to the post about the Detroit “Peaches and Cream” Van that takes fresh fruits and vegetables out to underserved communities, I just wanted to mention that Local Matters, a not for profit based in Columbus, Ohio, had a  “Veggie Van” out on the road all summer in the inner city, in conjunction with our partner, The Greener Grocer.

The Veggie Van delivers fresh, local and healthy fruits and vegetables straight from the farm to our neighbors in need. It’s our farm market on wheels! We worked in tandem with neighborhood leaders to identify high traffic locations in underserved communities and scheduled a Veggie Van stop there on a weekly basis. The Veggie Van carried wireless credit card machines to allow us to accept EBT cards (Food Stamps) in addition to credit cards and cash payments and follows through on Local Matters mission of addressing food justice in our community.

I just wanted you to know that you have an innovative program right in your own backyard!  www.local-matters.org & www.thegreenergrocer.com

 

Peaches and Cream Van in Detroit

Michael Jones's picture

In response to the post about the Detroit "Peaches and Cream" van that takes fresh fruits and vegetables out to underserved communities, I just wanted to mention that Local Matters, a not for profit based in Columbus, Ohio, had a Veggie Van out on the road all summer in the inner city communities, in conjunction with our partner, The Greener Grocer.

The Veggie Van delivers fresh, loca and healthy fruits and vegetables straight from the farm to our neighbors in need. It's our "farm market on wheels".  We worked in tandem with neighborhood leaders to indentify high traffice locations in the underserved communities and scheduled Veggie Van stops on a weekly basis. The Veggie Van carries wireless credit card machines to allow us to accept EBT cards (EBT) in addition to credit cards and cash payments and follows through on part of Local Matters' mission of addressing food justice in our community.

I just wanted to let you know that you have an innovative program right in your own backyard!


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Another Opportunity Space for Local Food Systems

Steve Bosserman's picture

Not to detract from the value of having fresh fruits and vegetables available in urban food deserts, but the article referenced in Dana's posting highlights yet another opportunity within neighborhood-based food systems:

"I can't say if they have their own jingle, but I can imagine the sadness a child might feel when they run out to the front yard telling, "Ice Cream!" and instead find lettuce and string beans. But it's about time eating healthy goes mainstream. Two Detroit teens hired to help with the vegetable truck service were presented with zucchini and had no idea what it was."

The last sentence suggests that people would benefit not only by having access to fresh, locally-grown food, but by having it processed / prepared on the spot into tasty meals that preserve natural nutritional value and are served quickly, conveniently, and affordably.

Perhaps some Veggie Vans or Peaches and Greens trucks could be outfitted as mobile kitchens that offer a full-range of options for neighborhood residents concerning their food supply.  Then, imagine that the source of fresh food for those mobile kitchens is local in terms of food produced on vacant lots and abandoned properties in the neighborhood rather than within 100 miles.  Then, imagine further that the owners / operators of the mobile kitchens are residents of the same neighborhood so that a complete food system begins to take shape within the community.

This lays the underpinnings for a local economy based, in part, on a local food system.  It initiates a process by which resources are "grown" in the community, reinvested in the community, and used to strengthen the community through wider participation.  This a local food system that truly means something to those who own it and care about it--community members.

Imagine.  And with only a couple of converted vans and trucks to get it underway!

Mobile kitchens in food deserts

frijolitofarmer's picture

Steve, I like your idea for mobile kitchens that prepare local foods. I see a critical problem, though. The reason for driving vegetables into food deserts is that the people who live there are too poor to afford transportation to go get the vegetables themselves. People this impoverished often rely on food stamps, which is why Local Matters' Veggie Van accepts EBT cards (food stamps).

Prepared, hot foods such as would be prepared by mobile kitchens can not be purchased with EBT cards. This is why restaurants can't accept EBT. I've noticed that Kroger has recently caught wise to this distinction. Most food items in a grocery store can be purchased with EBT, but not hot items from the Deli counter. Kroger has, for some years now, offered hot rotisserie chickens and hot chicken pieces that are baked or fried. Food stamp recipients have to pay cash for these foods, as EBT won't cover them.

Kroger realized at some point that these customers were probably passing up the cooked chicken for this reason. In response, they have (in some stores--just in poorer neighborhoods, from what I've observed personally) begun refrigerating some of these chickens or packs of chicken pieces after cooking them. I've even seen some at the store at Morse & Cleveland labeled with a notice that the item is EBT eligible. The food is still cooked, but the customer has to take it home and reheat it, which, for whatever reason, is sufficient to satisfy the folks in charge of the EBT system. Potato salad and other cold, prepared foods from the deli have always been covered. It just can't be hot (which makes me wonder why a restaurant serving salads or cold sandwiches couldn't accept EBT).

A mobile unit that's selling steamed vegetables, for example, wouldn't be able to accept EBT cards as payment. This might put the product out of reach of the very people the mobile kitchen was intended to serve. Perhaps, rather than a mobile kitchen, the food could be prepared, packaged, and refrigerated in a commercial kitchen. This food could then be distributed by lunch wagons--basically small refrigerated trucks. These vehicles could be outfitted more cheaply than could vehicles with complete kitchen facilities on board.

food in food deserts

karen goodheil's picture

 I would like to make note.  That Heathcare Alliance and Meals on Wheels already are established doing this service in these neighborhoods.  The real problem is that people are not use to eating more vegies than meat.  They also are content in eating these meals that are high in starch and low in protein.  Especially non meat proteins.  These organizations could double their service if they had the manpower and access to healthy food at prices competitive with all the stuff that they must buy from corporations that rely on immigrant harvesters and processors.  Better yet create jobs in these food desert neighborhoods that are directly connected to the healthy food industry.  More people working for fair wages would increase the consumption of healthier food.