What is the Veggie Van?
The Veggie Van is a donation-based market that carries locally-grown fruits and veggies 10 months out of the year. Our goal is to improve access to fresh, local produce in rural Southeastern Ohio. Community Food Initiatives is piloting the Veggie Van this year with support from multiple Athens County based organizations working for healthy communities and a thriving sustainable, equitable local food system. Some of the key collaborators include the Creating Healthy Communities Coalition, Rural Action, HAPCAP, and the Athens County Public Library system. It is piloting in Glouster, Ohio, during the 2020-2021 season. Every week for 10 months the Veggie Van will sell delicious produce, practically straight from the field.
To get folks extra excited about the produce each week, we’ll also be providing Discovery Kitchen recipes so that you know how to use everything we provide. We’ll even be sharing workshops and tasting tables so that customers have a chance to cook and learn together, or try new foods.
And the greatest thing? We want to make sure everyone has access to this fresh, local, food, so it will be available for a free will donation. Firmly based in our vision for a thriving local food system where everyone has access to fresh, local food, the Veggie Van will offer boxes of locally-grown produce in exchange for any level of donation. All unsold produce will be distributed to our food pantry partners, and all donations will support food purchases. This model will support our local farmers and support a local non-profit social enterprise, while also ensuring that fresh, local fruits and veggies are affordable for the entire community.
The Veggie Van Study Component
This project is funded in part through a grant from the University of Buffalo. They are conducting a study to determine the impact that increased access to fresh fruits and veggies has on wellness, so for this project we’re looking for a total of 60 study participants who will answer questions at the beginning of the market season, and again at the end. We’re excited to see factual evidence of how important it is to eliminate obstacles to accessing fresh produce!
We will be bringing the Veggie Van first to the Glouster area, and hope to add a Nelsonville location in the future in addition to other rural communities. Participants in the study need to sign up at the start of the market season, and will receive Veggie Van discounts and up to $90 in gift cards.