Mobile food truck delivers fresh produce to senior citizens and students, looks to grow downtown

Freshly graduated from a TechTown business development program, Jocelyn Harris is looking to grow her fresh produce delivery business and expand its range.

Harris owns and operates UpSouth Foods, a Jefferson-Chalmers-based food truck that has been making deliveries along the Detroit River for the past few years now.

UpSouth is as much a social enterprise as much as it is a business.

Harris started with a desire to deliver fresh, organic, and hormone-free fruits and vegetables to the city's senior citizens who lack access to transportation. Now Harris employs three generations of her family and UpSouth delivers to schools and events in addition to the senior citizen apartments the food truck routinely visits.

Harris is now looking to begin delivering to businesses throughout the city. She also hopes to begin delivering non-perishable food items.

The neighborhoods and communities Harris delivers to are underserved when it comes to fresh, organic, and hormone-free produce, she says. Harris makes her scheduled deliveries throughout the week, stopping at a senior housing facility on the riverfront or a neighborhood school at the same time every week. She's popular among her senior citizen customers because they're used to eating healthy, they just lack a way to purchase fresh produce.

Much of the work she does with children is educating them about healthy eating, a role the retired Detroit Public Schools teacher wears well. Healthy eating is in her blood. She's led urban gardening programs as a 4H youth agent, worked as a Department of Corrections food consultant, and believes, as she says, that, "food is our medicine." Harris gets her produce from a number of farms, including ones in Detroit and Belleville, Michigan.

"I think that my interest in food comes from my family background," says Harris. "My family comes from Texas. Farming meant a lot to my family and I grew up with a lot of stories of farming in the South."

Harris now looks to grow her business and deliver fresh produce to businesses downtown and beyond.

Source: Jocelyn Harris, owner of UpSouth Foods
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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MJ Galbraith is Model D's development news editor. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.