Fresh Truck Program Coordinator Stephen James was motivated to help families take on personal challenges with the philosophy of starting each day with proper food access to live a healthy lifestyle.
In the South End James helps the Fresh Truck, which is in the neighborhood on Fridays, connect with volunteers, customers, and many partners in the community.
James was at a community meeting recently to discuss Fresh Truck and promote it as another option for those facing food insecurity.
“We are a mobile market that is currently stocked with over 30 fruits and vegetables,” said James. “We are another resource for families like local farmers markets and grocery stores and my goal here tonight is to share this information and even if you are not food insecure you may know someone in the community that may be in need.”
James pointed out that food insecurity in Massachusetts has doubled from 8 percent to 16 percent due to the COVID-19 pandemic so the more food access options out there for families the better.
One program Fresh Truck participates in is the state’s Healthy Incentives Program (HIP) for EBT/SNAP clients.
James explained that the HIP program helps families or individuals buy more fruits and vegetables for their household through an incentive program.
Residents can use their SNAP benefits to buy fruits and vegetables from a HIP authorized farm or vendor like Fresh Truck and they will receive $1 for each dollar spent on eligible fruits and vegetables, up to a monthly limit.
“Any family or individual that has an EBT/SNAP card is already enrolled in the program,” said James.
The Fresh Truck is in the neighborhood on Fridays at the South End’s Lenox Camden Apts, 3 Kendall St from 2:30 pm-4:30 pm and the South End’s Villa Victoria, 50 Aguadilla St. from 2:30 pm-5:00 pm
Fresh Truck was started by Josh Trautwein while he was working as a health educator at the MGH Charlestown Healthcare Center. He kept hearing from his families that it was difficult to shop for healthy food — at that time, the only grocery store in the neighborhood was shutting down for a year-long renovation. The health center had no way of solving for the fact that patients didn’t have access to the food they needed to stay healthy. It was this experience that inspired Fresh Truck to rethink the traditional grocery store model, make it mobile and bring food closer to the people that need it the most.
In 2018, Fresh Truck expanded its efforts to address health disparities by developing Fresh Connect, a platform that makes it possible for health care providers to prescribe food as medicine.