On Tuesday mornings, the colorful Market Fresh market on wheels rolls into the parking lot at St. Francis Manor Apartments. Some shoppers already have gathered, awaiting its weekly arrival. Once the doors open, shoppers enter to select produce, meat, dairy items and canned goods, saving money on their weekly groceries right in their own neighborhoods.
Later in the day, the rolling grocery store moves to other central Indian River locations – Woodland Park and then Gardenia Gardens, all senior living communities in Central Vero Beach. On Wednesdays it visits the Gifford community, on Thursdays the Oslo community in south Indian River County and on Fridays, it makes stops in Fellsmere. Partnering with the school system, Indian River County, local healthcare providers and low-come housing partners, Treasure Coast Food Bank has created a schedule that focuses on bringing this innovative resource to serve the seniors, children, low-income families, and those in need in our community.
“We’ve long known that many people lacked access to affordable and nutritious food because of several factors, including a lack of stores and transportation,” said Judith Cruz, President and CEO of Treasure Coast Food Bank. “Market Fresh on the Move brings a rolling grocery store filled with affordable and healthy food right into these neighborhoods. It’s the fulfillment of our longstanding vision to eliminate these barriers and improve peoples’ lives.”
Residents have become accustomed to the route and await Market Fresh’s arrival each week. Residents enrolled in SNAP get the added benefit of buying their produce using a statewide nutrition program called Fresh Access Bucks. When 50 percent or more of their groceries are fresh produce, they receive a 50 percent discount on their bill up to $10. The goal of the program is to encourage healthy eating choices.
Inside the rolling grocery store are shelves stocked with an abundance of fruits and vegetables and dry and canned products, as well as refrigerators filled with dairy, eggs, and meat. The truck also is equipped with an on-board kitchen and at times, hosts healthy cooking demonstrations and other nutrition education. A future goal of the program is to have pre-cooked meals and salads produced by Treasure Coast Food Bank’s Culinary Training Academy available as well.
Indian River County is the first area in South Florida for the innovative program, made possible with support from partnerships Treasure Coast Food Bank has established with numerous community organizations and with grants from Publix Supermarkets Charities, Indian River Impact 100, Indian River Community Foundation, and the John’s Island Foundation. A second Market Fresh on the Move vehicle is used for stops in Martin, St. Lucie and Okeechobee counties.
There are 7,000 households with incomes below the poverty line in Indian River County. Through this program that targets areas of high need, Treasure Coast Food Bank expects that more than 8,000 households will be able to access affordable, nutritious food from Market Fresh on the Move this year. Treasure Coast Food Bank posts the full schedule each week on its Facebook page, Facebook.com/tcfoodbank.
ABOUT TREASURE COAST FOOD BANK
Treasure Coast Food Bank is the only food bank and largest hunger relief organization on Florida’s Treasure Coast, providing the community each year with millions of meals valued at more than $50 million through robust programs and in partnership with 400 charitable organizations in Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin, and Okeechobee counties. In addition to emergency food distribution, Treasure Coast Food Bank operates a full roster of direct service programs that not only solve the immediate problem of hunger, but help individuals and families gain long-term food security, better health outcomes, and self-sufficiency. Treasure Coast Food Bank is a member of Feeding America, the nationwide network of 200 food banks that leads the fight against hunger in the United States. For more information on Treasure Coast Food Bank, call 772.489.3034, log on to stophunger.org, visit our Facebook page at facebook.com/tcfoodbank, or follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/tcfoodbank.