Thanks to a new, state-funded pilot program, more residents of three targeted Detroit communities will have a fresh new way to purchase produce locally -- via roving trucks.
Starting Tuesday, an initiative known as MI (pronounced "my") Neighborhood Food Movers will send trucks full of fresh fruits and vegetables into areas of the city where residents lack access to high quality grocery stores.
According to program organizer Kim Trent, the director of the governor's southeast Michigan office, the trucks will operate "almost like ice cream trucks, stopping in area neighborhoods that are underserved to deliver fresh produce."
Food Movers is focusing on three areas: one bounded by Woodward Ave., Dexter, W. Grand Blvd. and Glendale; the Jefferson/Chalmers area on the East Side; and another bounded by Forest, E. Jefferson, Mt. Elliott and Conner.
Funded by a $75,000 state investment, the Food Movers program is focused on establishing sustainable local businesses rather than simply providing a one-time grant. "It's very innovative," says Trent of the program's entrepreneurial model.
During its 4-month trial period, the pilot will include three vendors
that range from already established businesses to totally new start-ups. One vendor is Peaches & Greens, which started as just a mobile truck
2008, now operates a bricks and mortar store on Third Street
and was the inspiration for the program. The other businesses will be called Field of Our Dreams and Up South Foods.
In addition to establishing a revolving loan system, Trent also worked with a number of nonprofits to develop an extensive manual for potential future vendors. The manual covers everything from how to obtain funding, to applying for the appropriate permits, to securing food sources to stock the trucks.
With this model in place, Trent hopes that after the 4-month trial period, the Food Movers program will be able to expand to include more local vendors covering a broader range of geographic areas.
Source: Kim Trent, Governor's office in southeast Michigan
Writer: Rachel Harkai