For Indianapolis residents without easy access to fresh produce, there’s a new project that will bring fruits and veggies closer to home.
Garden on the Go, a collaborative project between Indiana University (IU) Health and Green B.E.A.N. Delivery, is a truck equipped to keep produce fresh as it makes 12 stops around the city each week.
Customers will be able to board the truck and shop just like at a regular grocery store. There is also a window where people can place produce orders and have an employee assist them with their fruit and vegetable needs.
The truck makes stops at senior and public housing facilities and several “food deserts.”
Maureen Weber, the director of Community Outreach and Engagement at IU Health, described a food desert as any area that lacks access to affordable, healthy food.
“There are areas that don’t have full service grocery stores nearby,” Weber said. “Those are the places we chose as our stops.”
The mission of Garden on the Go is to offer inexpensive, healthy food in an effort to combat obesity and a lack of healthy resources for some Indianapolis residents.
From apples to peppers and onions to oranges, the truck changes the produce it offers every day to accommodate demand, and the program will even accommodate some requests – all at the lowest possible prices.
In order to do this, Green B.E.A.N. Delivery, a company that delivers local produce to customers’ doors, uses its resources to work closely with local vendors to provide the best price to Garden on the Go customers.
Each week, Garden on the Go will make stops at areas including the Lugar Tower Apartments, the Northside New Era Baptist Church and Beville Park.
The truck will make the stops each week, all year round.
Lincoln Saunders, the Garden on the Go director, said one thing that is important to him with the Garden on the Go program is reliability.
“We are trying to build community connections and spread the word that we’ll be back every week of the year,” he said. “We want to make it a dependable resource.”
The truck has been running since the end of April, and has received a positive response in communities.
“The shoppers are more our clients than customers,” Saunders said. “We are constantly seeking feedback. This program is meant to serve them.”
Saunders said that he hopes the program will help change attitudes about eating healthy by helping to increase access to healthy options.
“One of the most rewarding parts is watching the expressions on people’s faces when we come to their neighborhood,” he said. “I love to see people when they see how fresh our tomatoes are and how affordable it is.”
And kids, don’t shy away from your fruits and vegetables. In the month of June, any child that approaches the Garden on the Go truck will be given a piece of fruit for free.
For a complete schedule of stops or for more information, visit iuhealth.org/gardenonthego.