Fresh Food via a Mobile Market

In the fall of 2016, the City of Arvada was awarded a mini-grant through the LiveWell Colorado HEAL Cities & Towns Campaign to complete a food assessment to demonstrate a variety of gaps in Arvada’s foodscape. Using data collected from surveys conducted with community members, focus groups with local food producers and distributors, and data from other sources such as the 2015 American Community Survey, three recommendations were presented in the food assessment report: support fresh food access and education; minimize barriers to a mobile fresh vendor; and incorporate community agriculture into all City plan updates.

Large parts of southeastern Arvada are located in food deserts, which are defined as communities, especially communities with low-income residents, that have limited access to affordable and nutritious food. (In contrast, an area with supermarkets is termed a food oasis.) Thus the concept of a mobile market was explored to help specific housing complexes access fresh food and provide cooking education.

The Veggie Van was launched by local nonprofit Ride Provide Inc. Through a partnership with and a small grant from the city manager’s office, the Veggie Van hit the streets on August 1. In addition to providing underserved areas with fresh, local produce, the van teaches customers how to prepare healthy meals and offers a new meal kit each week that provides the customer with a recipe and all the necessary ingredients to make a fresh, healthy meal.

The Arvada Veggie Van sells fresh, local produce four nights a week in four different neighborhoods of Arvada.

“I think (the Veggie Van) will definitely benefit the community in terms of having affordable freshly grown food that people can access easily, but (it will) also educate adults and children on what you can grow in Arvada … and how easy it is to prepare vegetables,” stated Jessica Prosser, Arvada assistant to the city manager.