Fresh produce will be accessible to more families in underserved neighborhoods as the result of an effort by the Discovery Triangle Development Corporation.
Starting March 25, the “Fresh Express by Discovery Triangle” will make a trip twice a week selling fresh and affordable produce out of a renovated Valley Metro bus.
The Discovery Triangle is a corporation that helps renovate a region between Phoenix and Tempe they have dubbed “the triangle.” After examining the area and noticing the lack of produce stores, the company decided to create the Fresh Express.
President and CEO of Discovery Triangle Don Keuth said there are no nearby stores in the area, which roughly follows the light rail from Tempe to Downtown Phoenix, and residents depend heavily on public transportation.
“Many people have to take the bus and takes them about 45 minutes to get to the store,” he said. “In the summer time, they have to take a cab home, because they are worried about their food going bad. It’s a real challenge.”
The idea of a one-location produce store was first considered to try and solve the problem, but after considering all options, Discovery Triangle decided on a mobile store to cover a broader area providing more produce to more people, Keuth said.
“We had some discussion … and (looked) up options of potentially maybe opening a small produce store, and this is how we got to the bus,” he said.
The Fresh Express will run from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays and routes will begin and end at elementary schools, making several stops during the day at different places such as nursing homes, churches, parks and other community places.
While en route, Keuth said the produce will be kept air conditioned and any left will be stored at the homeless shelter for families, UMOM.
“Ultimately we want to go three days a week (and) if we’re really successful go even more,” Keuth said.
The Fresh Express will also have a clinic to provide health screenings by ASU College of Nursing and Health Innovation students and staff.
College of Nursing and Health Innovation Dean Teri Pipe said in an email the partnership with Discovery Triangle will be a great learning experience for everyone, allowing shoppers to learn about their health and students get real life experience.
“Our students will learn first-hand about community health needs, providing tailored health screenings, health promotion, preventive care, education about wellness and chronic illness management and population health management,” she said.
Undergraduate nursing students will be the first to take on the screenings with supervision from expert nursing faculty, Pipe said.
In the future, the project will possibly incorporate students from other fields such as nutrition, speech and hearing and exercise and wellness, she added.
Pipe learned about the project after a presentation by Keuth and quickly discussed the idea of including a clinic on board.
“There was great enthusiasm for doing so,” she said.
Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell said this initiative will provide necessary resources that will benefit the community.
“(This will) empower the community members and ensure they make healthy choices,” he said. “That’s one of the main goals and missions.”
The Fresh Express will not only enhance the community’s knowledge on healthy choices, but it will be convenient to get grocery shopping done even when doing everyday activities, Mitchell said.
“When families pick up the kids, we’re going to have the bus with the fresh produce right (there) available for easy access and at a very affordable price,” he said.
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