The Food Bus: A Fresh Food Market on Wheels

fresh vegetables
fresh vegetables

Eliminating the Food Deserts

Steve Casey, a Chicago activist, grew weary of the lack of fresh fruit and vegetables in his community and decided to do something about it. It was back in 2006 when his neighborhood was rightly labeled a food desert.

What is a food desert?

A food desert is a community that has severely limited access to fresh vegetables and fruits, and as a result, the people in the community suffer from health issues related to a very poor diet. This is a common problem in many urban communities. Not only are supermarkets and greengrocers limited but there tends to be an influx of fast food restaurants.

According to Steve Casey, there was seldom a fresh vegetable any where in sight, leaving Chicago residents in the desert with a higher risk of heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Surely, his family also deserved better.

Mr. Casey knew that by just creating a farmer's market it would limit access to many people in different communities. He came up with the idea of bringing food to the people in each community - and decided a bus would be the best way to do it - a market on wheels.

Fresh Moves Mobile Produce Market is created!

With the help of local activists, $40,000 was raised and used to gut an old municipal bus and 'Fresh Moves Mobile Produce Market' was created. Partnering with Architecture for Humanity the bus was transformed into a one aisle supermarket; people board and are assisted by a helpful friendly staff. There is a certain joy in seeing people so happy to have access to quality foods.

Steve Casey likes to think of himself as an ice cream man in a sense when he travels through the communities. But instead of ice cream, he is delivering organic fruits and vegetables. Vegetables offered include organic collard greens, tomatoes, broccoli, potatoes and much more. Fruit includes apples and watermelon. Produce is kept affordable because the mobile market works in partnership with an organic distributor.

There is never a shortage of customers. The website has a map of the bus stop locations and on many occasions you may see as many as 70 people waiting on line for the arrival of the bus. How lovely is this to know that the market will come to you, and it is just a matter of knowing the schedule and going out to shop for real food.

The mantra back in the 1960's that I remember so well is: "You are what you eat!"

Nutrition used to matter but now It seems we have been tricked into counting calories instead of looking at the nutritional value of the food we eat. The idea of counting calories came about because of the high amount of processed foods we eat. No one thought about counting calories when food was not an industrialized and processed product. We simply ate well.

The Future

Steve Casey is now working on adding at least five more buses to his mobile food fleet. He would like to be able to bring his buses to schools and senior facilities. In his opinion, food is a right and a matter of social justice. I couldn't agree more.

An answer to a food desert in Wisconsin

Tired of a food desert has also been addressed in a different way in Wisconsin by Will Allen who created the total urban farm. Mr. Allen was recognized and awarded by the MacArthur Foundation for his amazing project. He too wanted fresh food in his community. (See link below)

Just a bit of food for thought - Keep in mind that much of the food we buy in the supermarkets we may have access to - that we consider fresh - may be genetically modified and as Americans we have no right to know. My issue is not that these companies keep telling us there's no proof of harm caused by genetically modified food. That's backwards. My question is - what is the safety and health benefits of genetically modified foods? There is no answer to this.

Have you noticed when you shop for produce it has no aroma? Walking into a restaurant, or even preparing soup at home - what happened to the lovely mouthwatering aromas of our food? I used to be so happy salivating - but that thrill is gone.

Much of what we eat here in the U.S. is banned in Europe and other countries would not even consider eating what we call food. (See link below for food banned in Europe but not America)

For more information and suggested reading about healthy eating, please see the links below.

For more information about the Fresh Moves Mobile Produce bus there is a website: freshmoves.org/about/

More by this Author


Comments 25 comments

KMattox profile image

KMattox 5 years ago from USA

I agree completely that there is a lack of fresh foods. Did you know that because of genetic modifications most of the food you buy fresh will not produce fruit when planted?

And you're right again what happened to that aroma? A lot of food we buy fresh is picked before it is ripe so it stays fresh longer when it gets to market. There are many fruits and veggies that get gassed to make them appear ripe before their time. That is why many things don't have aroma's, they're not ripe yet. Great hub thanks. I voted up and useful.


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

Thanks so much for commenting KMattox - and great to meet you too. I'm a follower now.

You know I had some real peaches last summer from the Youth Market that comes for a few months with fresh food. And I could smell the peaches (and other produce as I approached). It was quite exciting. Wow!


Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 5 years ago from East Coast, United States

Everything old is new again. I remember when "street A-rabs" as they called them in Baltimore, used to come around up and down the allies selling fresh fruit and vegetables. They used a cart pulled by a horse. The men hollered out their wares featuring the seasonal produce. I'll never forget that sound, the loud booming voice "strawberries", "watermelon," "cantaloupe!"

What a wonderful tradition to reintroduce to our cities. Great opportunities for both customers and sellers. Voted up and awesome!


Jen's Solitude profile image

Jen's Solitude 5 years ago from Delaware

What a GREAT way to offer fresh fruits and veggies to urban areas. Thanks for writing this most interesting article.

I wonder if he is able to accept debit cards for payment? The old food stamps program is now in the form of a debit card and I hope the many unemployed people using it in his area have an opportunity to buy fresh veggies and fruit from his bus.


PWalker281 5 years ago

Another excellent hub about community projects to provide affordable healthy food to the people who need it the most. Makes me want to go outside and start a garden - I certainly have the climate for it. We have a nice farmer's market so I think I'll start there :-). Rated up and interesting.


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 5 years ago

What a great idea. Reminds me of the mobile library that came to my little neighborhood, so people can have access to books. Steve Casey is definitely doing a good thing. You're right about our produce being modified. While in Europe recently, I enjoy the fruits so much--they taste so yummy and real. Rated up.


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

Isn't it great Delores Monet - we can share so much information here. I think back to all the people who used to come through the neighborhood here in New York City when I was growing up. So many people had independent businesses - and money went back and forth. Imagine - real food is a new idea - again. Thanks for the rating too.

You're welcome. I'm thinking Jen's Solitude, we will see those debit cards used - if that is not already done. Here in NYC all the farmer's markets accept those EBT cards. It makes so much sense.

Doesn't it make you feel good PWalker281 - to see the creativity of so many people? I do miss a garden since I live in an apartment in the city now. There was nothing like the fresh fruit and veggies from my garden. My whole family was gorgeous! Whew! Thanks for the rating too.

So true anglnwu. When I was in Europe and S. Korea, Singapore, and Thailand - even the simplest meal was fantastic because it had so much aroma and flavor. In fact when I travel I look forward to eating. Thanks for the rating.


Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 5 years ago

This is a such great way to encourage people to eat healthier. In Bangkok, fresh-food trucks and buses are actually pretty common. There were about 3 - 5 buses that came to our neighborhood daily, using a megaphone to announce their arrival. Now living in California, I don't have that luxury anymore. There's one farmers' market near my place but it only opens on Sunday.


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

I am so happy Om Paramapoonya to say that I had the pleasure of spending time in Bangkok - and loved it. The food was amazing. Always fresh and prepared to keep you cool. I think this is an idea that will grow here in the U.S. as we are in desperate need of fresh food.

Thanks for writing.


TheListLady profile image

TheListLady 5 years ago from New York City

This is so wonderful and congratulations to the young man doing this. I sit here wondering if I am starving - yes, I am eating and getting what looks like fresh food, but I don't know if it is. It has no aroma - and I cut up an onion earlier and I shed no tears. Remember when we used to cry when we cut an onion. I am probably starving due to a lack of nutrition. Good grief!

Great hub and so inspiring. I suppose even with all the food around me this is still a food desert because the food is probably not fresh.


CountryCityWoman profile image

CountryCityWoman 5 years ago from From New York City to North Carolina

I'm so glad to hear this. We are truly starving in this country yet we are eating and eating and eating. With this total lack of nutritious food we are doing little more than chewing. That should be our mantra 'food is a matter of social justice - a right' - but real food, not this GM fake food garbage.

Great hub and rated up!


CountryCityWoman profile image

CountryCityWoman 5 years ago from From New York City to North Carolina

I'm so glad to hear this. We are truly starving in this country yet we are eating and eating and eating. With this total lack of nutritious food we are doing little more than chewing. That should be our mantra 'food is a matter of social justice - a right' - but real food, not this GM fake food garbage.

Great hub and rated up!


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

I agree with you thelistlady. There was a time so many of us out of need were wonderful entrepreneurs and we made our own way. More than ever there is a need for people/us to improve our nutritious lives. We all have to make demands at our local markets. It's utter nonsense that organic food has to be more expensive. How can this young man make it so affordable - maybe we all need bus service.

I often feel I am starving too CountryCityWoman. Maybe this explains the craving for sweets because we are not getting it from fruit.

Thanks for the comments.


justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 5 years ago from Texas

Wow! Great information! I wish we had a food bus here! Voted up, awesome and shared! :)


Cutters profile image

Cutters 5 years ago from South Carolina

Food Bus what a great Idea! We need more people to think out of the box. Great info!


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

Thanks justmesuzanne - the time is 'ripe' for just such a project. Thanks for the vote and more!

Thinking outside the box Cutters. That's it exactly and I'm beginning to feel a bit inspired here. Thanks!


Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 5 years ago from Texas, USA

Interesting story, in my state we could use a mobile produce network in some of the larger inner cities here such as Dallas and Houston. Good Article.


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

Thanks Coolmon2009. I just love the idea. And the fact that so many people do not have to get into individual cars to get to markets - that's a plus too. Thanks for writing.


Nolimits Nana profile image

Nolimits Nana 5 years ago from British Columbia

Great article - and kudos to people like Steve Casey, who recognize a problem and create a solution.

Many cities are now setting aside space for community gardens,so people who have no space can grow their own fresh veggies and fruits. What a great way for families to teach their children about proper nutrition - not to mention building a great family relationship.


Veronica Allen profile image

Veronica Allen 5 years ago from Georgia

How ingenious! It's so sad to hear that places are actually considered a food dessert but it was extremely reassuring to hear that there are some out there taking proactive measures to change that!


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

I must say Nolimits Nana that people like Steve Casey inspire me and for the reason you mentioned. Why create something new when you can also create a much needed solution to a problem - works every time! Glad to hear about the community gardens and we are doing that a bit more in NYC which has many food deserts.

So true Veronica Allen - food deserts because we have no much needed nutrition any where in our communities. What a way to live.

Thanks for the comments.


DeBorrah K. Ogans profile image

DeBorrah K. Ogans 5 years ago

BkCreative, What a great informative hub! I think that the fresh food bus;"market on wheels" is really a wonderful idea that will help many! Thank you for sharing, Peace & Blessings!


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

You're welcome DeBorrah K. Ogans! What a creative idea - I'm inspired.


adrienne2 profile image

adrienne2 5 years ago from Atlanta

I remember back when I was growing up we used to have the vegetable man, come down our street selling fresh fruit and veggies. He would drive a pick up-like truck, but the back was bigger with wooden sides. Thanks for sharing the food bus ideal with everyone.


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

Seems like what is old is new again adrienne2. Thanks for sharing that. It just makes so much sense - even as an entrepreneur.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working