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Farm Express back up and running, delivering produce to food deserts

Posted at 5:22 AM, Nov 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-23 12:24:27-05

PHOENIX — The Farm Express is back up and running after stopping its service in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The fresh produce market on wheels drives to neighborhoods, serving residents who rely on public transportation to get to the grocery store.

"I sit up on my balcony and wait for them to come," said Mike Kutz, a regular customer. "It's handy for so many of us seniors who don't drive."

Elyse Guidas is the Executive Director of Activate Food Arizona, the non-profit that brings the Farm Express to life.

To be safe, she says residents no longer get on the bus to pick their fruits and vegetables. Instead, they choose from a menu what they want, and a staff member bags it for them. She says a lot of their produce is grown locally.

"We accept cash, credit, debit," Guidas said. "We accept SNAP benefits as well."

She says the Farm Express has been making pit-stops in food deserts for about six years. Those are areas with high poverty and where residents live at least a mile from the closest grocery store.

RELATED: Food deserts in the Phoenix area: where you live may determine your access to healthy food

ABC15 was there as they served residents who live near the Salvation Army Laura Danieli Senior Center off 4th Avenue and Fillmore Street.

“Even though downtown has a lot of development, the residents who have been here for a long time haven’t really had reliable consistent access to affordable healthy food," Guidas said. "The grocery stores are still on the other side of the freeway or they’re a little bit downtown, which, if you have mobility challenges, might be hard to access."

To fix that problem, she said the possibilities are endless.

"Mobile markets are one of those solutions and we are by no means the only solution," Guidas said. "But we envision environments where people have multiple choices at any given time to get healthy, affordable food."

To learn more about the Farm Express and to see their schedule, click here.

RELATED: Community leaders look to elected officials, legislators to help combat food deserts