Credits: Photograph by Mike Groll / AP, posted on msnbc.com, 7/6/08.
MSNBC today features a great piece about creative programs bringing fresh produce to "food deserts" which the article defines as "urban or rural areas unserved by a big grocery chain that can serve up fresh foods at lower costs." Among the programs featured in Affordable stores too far? Veggie vans offer aid are the Veggie Mobile (operated by Troy's own Capital District Community Gardens (CDCG)), Iowa's Farm to Folk project, and Pennsylvania's Fresh Food Financing Initiative (.pdf file).
The Veggie Mobile circulates between Albany, Schenectady and Troy, New York. It is in Troy on Thursdays and Saturdays, with Thursday stops including the Taylor Apartments at Congress and River Streets from 12:30 - 1:30 p.m.; Kennedy Towers Senior Apartments on 6th Avenue from 2:00 - 3:30 p.m.; and Carroll Hill School at 112 Delaware Avenue from 4:00 - 5:00 p.m. More information can be found on CDCG's web site and in the new Veggie Mobile blog (included in notable blogs listed in the left sidebar).
The Veggie Mobile, which recently celebrated its first anniversary, has been a fantastic and very welcome addition to "local food" offerings and is part of increasing efforts to support local farmers and agricultural efforts, make nutritious food more readily available to more people at lower costs, and to provide good food choices within walking distance of most residents. Here in Troy, these much-needed efforts include the Troy Waterfront and Winter Farmers' Markets (Saturdays year-round), the Little Italy Farmers' Market (Wednesday afternoons during summer months), and the Troy Community Food Co-op, which expects to open this fall. With additional farmers' markets located in Cohoes (Fridays), Watervliet (Tuesdays), and Waterford Harbor Farmers Market (Sundays) and elsewhere, it is almost possible to avoid chain grocery produce entirely.
As important as the fresh produce, bread, cheese, artisanal products and crafts are, these efforts also continue to play a huge role in making these communities great places to live.