Pilot program focused on fresh food for the underservecd

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    Gov. Granholm has launched a pilot program designed to bring more fruits and vegetables into neighborhoods lacking adequate access to grocery stores. The program, called the MI Neighborhood Food Movers, is being led by Kim Trent, director of Granholm’s Southeast Michigan Office.

    Trent said state government has recognized for a long time that the lack of fresh food access in Detroit is a major problem which needs to be addressed.  The state has been trying to come up with solutions to attract more grocery stores to the city.

    “But, in the meantime, we were trying to come up with other strategies to increase access to fruits and vegetables in the city,” she said, adding that in decades past, trucks made regular neighborhood deliveries in much the same way that ice cream trucks do.

    The trucks are operated by local entrepreneurs and will follow designated routes. Residents will be able to step into the trucks and select the fruits and vegetables they want.

    Participating vendors are Peaches & Greens, UpSouth Foods, and Field of Our Dreams (FOOD). Peaches & Greens, located at 8838 Third Ave., will follow this route schedule from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Tuesday, west of the Lodge and north of Clairmount to Glendale; Wednesday, west of the Lodge and south of Clairmount to Grand Blvd; Thursday, east of Woodward from Glendale to Grand Blvd.; Friday, repeat; Saturday, various locations.

    UpSouth Foods will have a truck parked at the Pentecostal Church at Alter and Fairfax from 2 to 4 p.m. on Mondays. The truck will circulate between
    Alter Road, Jefferson and the Detroit River from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 4 to 7 p.m. On Tuesdays, the truck will circulate between Lakewood,
    Dickerson, Jefferson and the Detroit River from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 6-7 p.m.. From 7 to 11 a.m. and from 4-6 p.m., it will be parked at the intersection of Chalmers and Jefferson.

    On Thursdays, the truck will circulate between Jefferson Meadows, Jefferson Square, Phillip Simms, Victoria Park and Grayhaven from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from to 7 p.m.; on Fridays, it will be parked at Eastlake Church at the corner of Jefferson and Conner from 1-6 p.m.; and circulating between Harding, Dickerson, Jefferson and the Detroit River from 6-7 p.m.

    On Saturdays, the truck will be parked at the Jeffersonian Apartments (across from McDonald’s and Erma Henderson Park) from 1 to 7 p.m. On Sundays, it will be parked at churches or special events upon request.

    Field of Our Dreams, located at 1264 Meldrum, will have a truck at St. Johns on the River Market on Tuesdays from 4 to 6 p.m.. On Thursdays, a truck will be at Butzel Family Center at 11:30 a.m.; at the Sheridan Apartments at 3:30 p.m.; and from 5-7 p.m. at the corner of Agnes and Parker, with house stops throughout the east side.

    Trucks will also make stops in high traffic areas on designated days.

    The idea of vendors delivering fresh fruits and vegetables to neighborhoods, Trent noted, isn’t a new one. It was very common in the ’50s and ’60s to see fruit and vegetable trucks, or people selling such produce out of station wagons.

    She said one truck operating in the central part of the city plays an R&B track, and over the music, a voice invites people to get their fresh fruits and vegetables.

    A partnership with the Eastern Market Corporation, which is providing storage facilities and helping with food safety, will also help keep prices competitive with supermarkets and big box stores.

    Entrepreneurs wishing to participate are offered low interest loans to help them either launch or expand mobile food truck operations. Participating
    businesses have three years to repay those loans.

    It is a very small pilot, costing about $75,000, she pointed out.

    “We get a grant from the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) for $25,000, and then we got a grant from the Michigan Economic
    Development Corporation MEDC (for $50,000),” she said. “Those aren’t really state dollars. They’re quasi governmental dollars. It’s not like any money’s coming out of the general fund for this project.”

    To reach Peaches & Greens, call (313) 870-9210; to reach UpSouth Foods, call either (313) 522-7156 or (313) 658-9005; and to reach Field of our Dreams, call (313) 770-2633.

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