Most of us can shop for produce at our local supermarket, but for low-income residents of Albany, Schenectady and Troy in New York State that can mean a four-mile journey to a store in the suburbs—that was until the Veggie Mobile hit the streets.
Amy Klein, executive director of Capital District Community Gardens, got the idea when she heard about a mobile grocery market—the People’s Grocery—that served poor neighborhoods in West Oakland, Calif.
“We received a grant (from the State Department of Health and several foundations) and purchased a new van that was retrofitted. Our goal is to make fresh produce readily available and affordable to everyone,” says Klein.
The refrigerated, biodiesel-fueled van travels around the streets of seven urban neighborhoods in Albany, Schenectady and Troy three days a week. On a fourth day, the van offers a Taste and Take program—providing seasonal produce from local farmers for residents to taste and then take home at no charge.
On board residents can buy everything from lettuce and carrots to potatoes and mangoes while music plays in the background. It’s almost like the ice cream van.
“Only our music is better,” adds Klein.
—By Susan Palmquist