Putting Healthy Food Choices on Wheels
Every Saturday afternoon, Josh Trautwein parks his Fresh Truck in an affordable housing community in Boston’s Charlestown neighborhood. Residents board this retrofitted school bus turned food market to explore fresh fruits and vegetables they often can’t get anywhere else. Some visitors come for the ingredients; others, just for conversation.
If someone comes onto the bus but doesn’t buy anything, that’s okay because it’s a touch point. Everybody has a different starting point for thinking about having a healthy lifestyle.
– Josh Trautwein, Fresh Truck’s cofounder and executive director
Fresh Truck promotes healthy eating in Boston’s low-income neighborhoods by selling high-quality, affordable produce at scheduled locations and times around the city. In 2015, Blue Cross helped Fresh Truck deploy a second vehicle for cooking demonstrations, nutrition consultations, and workshops.
Yvonne Tang, Blue Cross director of corporate citizenship, says Fresh Truck’s “founders are impressive because they’re bringing an innovative approach to community health.” Here are two ways:
- Increased access: Fresh Truck combines geographic data with grassroots outreach to reach more people. For example, Josh first identifies a target neighborhood based on its proximity to a supermarket. He then consults with community leaders and residents to pinpoint the best route stops and times. “Food is very intimate. We need to understand the more nuanced decisions that affect people’s food shopping decisions,” he explains.
- Diversified funding: Fresh Truck operates under a hybrid nonprofit/for-profit business model. Truck routes cover not only low-income neighborhoods but also Boston’s downtown innovation district and a university campus. This gives Fresh Truck the revenue it needs to thrive and better support resource-light communities.
Food from Fresh Truck is delicious. I cook it with my mom. Eating healthy food makes people stronger so they can run around and play with their friends.
– Connor, age 4
“We become part of the community because we’re there every week,” Josh raves. “In one day we will literally go from a housing development for formerly homeless seniors, to a hub for white-collar professionals, to a low-income community where a three-year-old gets to try a sweet potato for the first time. It’s awesome.”