Fresh Truck Launching Thursday
Carrying fresh food from a supermarket is a challenge when you have to walk or take the MBTA, and even more so if you live more than a mile from a grocery store.
Those people live in what’s called a “food desert”, an area where access to fresh produce and other foods is not readily available. In some cases, people have to go miles just to get to a grocery store. There may be convenience stores around, but what do they offer? Processed junk food, sweets, and overpriced, rotting bananas or bruised apples. And it isn’t just low-income areas that can be considered a “food desert”. In Fort Point and the Seaport, there are five-star restaurants, high-end bakeries, and places where you can buy $10 jam, but you can’t get your groceries without heading to Beacon Hill or South Bay Plaza, both more than a mile away. With so many food trucks in town (even some healthy-ish ones), one local company is steering the mobile food idea to a different track, a track for the greater good.
Fresh Truck (more like Fresh Bus) turned a school bus into a mobile farmer’s market in order to serve Boston’s food deserts with fresh, affordable produce. The company started on Kickstarter, and were fully funded (raised $32,180 with 316 backers; their goal was $30,000) in February. Just five months later, they’re ready to launch. The company was created by Northeastern grads and best buds Daniel Clarke and Josh Trautwein.
“We got a map of the area’s food deserts from the Food Trust. If you look at that map next to a map that shows health issues like diabetes and obesity, it’s shocking to see how connected they are,” Clarke says. “There are some great people doing great things with health education, but if you can’t get access to healthy food, then the education doesn’t work. People need direct access to fresh fruits and vegetables.”
Because Fresh Truck won’t have the overhead costs associated with a traditional brick and morter food store, they can keep their prices low. “Our prices are 20 percent lower than any other food store in the city,” Clarke says.
Fresh Truck will offer fresh fruits and vegetables, in addition to whole grains, oatmeal, granola, herbs, spices, and other healthy items. They are also buying daily, which means fresher food and the ability to tailor their buys to the specific neighborhoods that they are visiting that day. “We can choose our selection based on the demands of the community,” Clarke says.
Starting Thursday, Fresh Truck will be selling their food in select locations in Jamaica Plain, Charlestown, Roxbury, Dorchester, Hyde Park, and Mattapan. When Whole Foods bought out Johnnie’s Foodmaster it unintentionally created a “food desert” in Charlestown. While Whole Foods renovates and converts, people that live nearby have no where to shop, and many are without cars. And even after Whole Foods opens, many people in the area may not be able to afford Whole Foods prices. Clarke says that Fresh Truck’s produce will come from a variety of places including local farms. “The quality is just as good,” Clarke says.
More Fresh Truck stops will be added throughout the summer. They will also be launching educational programming. Visit their website for more information and stop by their launch party at City Hall Plaza between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. Thursday afternoon.