by Rob Taylor Jr., Courier Staff Writer
Cucumbers, asparagus, jalapenos…
Sweet potatoes, milk, red bell peppers…
Kale, noodles, cabbage…
Walk inside—yes, inside—the Green Grocer mobile farmer’s market truck, and when it comes to fresh fruit, you won’t be disappointed.
And the fresh food is right at the doorstep of many African Americans in the Pittsburgh area.
Part of the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, “Green Grocer” aims to bring fresh food to areas that are typically known as “food deserts.” With the closing of Shop ‘n Save on Centre Avenue in the Hill District last March, most of the Hill District is considered a food desert, where fresh fruits and other foods are not readily available in the neighborhood.
Thanks to a partnership with the Urban Redevelopment Authority of the City of Pittsburgh, the Green Grocer’s can’t-miss red truck will now be parked in front of the former Shop ‘n Save location in the Hill, Tuesdays from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
“It’s good for the neighborhood, because you have all the senior citizens around here that can’t get far out,” said James Nicholson, who the New Pittsburgh Courier spotted purchasing eggs and garlic from the mobile food truck, Feb. 4.
“I like fresh fruit, and anything that happens in the Hill that’s positive, I like to be part of it. And this is positive,” added Rev. Glenn Grayson, pastor of Wesley Center AME Zion Church in the Hill. What did Rev. Grayson purchase from the Green Grocer? “Fresh collard greens, cantaloupe, ginger for my wife, and some peas and raisin bread, so I’m good,” he replied.
Diamonte Walker, the deputy executive director for the URA and a Hill District resident, led the efforts in getting the Green Grocer truck into its new location in the Centre Heldman Plaza, where Shop ‘n Save was housed. The URA late last year purchased the Shop ‘n Save building and some of the parking lot for $1.6 million. When the Green Grocer inquired with the URA about moving to a more “flat space” area in the Hill District from its original location near the Thelma Lovette YMCA, Walker offered the space in front of the Shop ‘n Save.
“It’s very important to me that the URA participate…and help to ensure the neighborhood has access to high-quality fresh food, while we’re finding a long-term solution for the grocery store,” Walker told the New Pittsburgh Courier.
The Green Grocer doesn’t just stop on Centre Avenue on Tuesdays. The food truck begins its journey on Tuesdays in Oak Hill at the UPMC Matilda H. Theiss Health Center, with fresh food available from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. After the 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. stop at the former Shop ‘n Save location, the truck heads to the North Side, at the Woods Run Library, 1201 Woods Run Ave., from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. It then heads west, to McKees Rocks, at 5 Generation Bakers, 1100 Chartiers Ave., from 3 to 4 p.m. It ends the day at the Sheraden Library, 720 Sherwood Ave., from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.
You can find the Green Grocer mobile farmer’s market truck in Northview Heights on Mondays (10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.) and in Monview Heights in West Mifflin on Thursdays (10 a.m. to 11 a.m.), in Spring Hill on Rhine Place on Mondays (noon to 1 p.m.), in Mt. Oliver/Knoxville at the Clock Tower (11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Thursdays) and Clairton’s Family Dollar parking lot (1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Thursdays), and on Fridays in Rankin (A Child’s World Daycare Center, 300 Rankin Blvd., 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.), Homewood (Alma Illery Medical Center, 7227 Hamilton Ave., 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.), East Hills Community Center (2291 Wilner Dr., 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.) and Wilmerding (314 Commerce St., 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.)
Products on the mobile farmer’s market truck can be paid for with cash, credit/debit cards, EBT, Food Bucks, and Just Harvest vouchers. For every two dollars spent at the Green Grocer with an EBT card, there’s a two-dollar coupon, thanks to a partnership with The Food Trust and Citizens Bank.
“We believe that everybody has the right to access fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh food, and have a choice about it,” said Josh Anderegg, mobile markets coordinator for the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. “The Green Grocer is an attempt to try to make that situation better in neighborhoods that have been denied that opportunity of access.”
(ABOUT THE TOP PHOTO: REVEREND GLENN GRAYSON, pastor of Wesley Center AME Zion Church in the Hill District, purchases fresh food from the Green Grocer mobile farmer’s market truck, Feb. 4. Photo by Rob Taylor Jr.)