From Next American City
The words food truck may conjure up images of urban gourmands noshing on portable portions of comfort food, unless of course, you happen to sit on your local planning commission. In that case, the words may call to mind parking headaches and angry restaurateurs. But another type of food truck, operating in the happy medium where civic leaders and residents of all income levels co-exist, is sprouting up in more cities. Take Baltimore, where this summer the Real Food Farm program launched its mobile farmers market. Loaded with fresh produce planted by city youth, the “Big Blue” truck makes regular weekly stops in the city’s Belair-Edison and Coldstream-Homestead-Montebello neighborhoods. Work schedule conflict with the mobile market’s hours? Not a problem. “Big Blue” makes house calls. Real Food Farm accepts the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) EBT card (Independence card) and is currently participating in the “Double Your Dollars” plan, offering shoppers twice the amount of fruits and vegetables for their money. Residents must buy ten dollars-worth of produce to get the truck to travel, so Real Food Farm encourages customers to shop with their neighbors. Collective purchasing, along with the high visibility of the truck, may entice other residents to develop healthier eating habits. This in turn, helps cultivate the sustainable and socially responsible communities our cities need. In recent weeks, the USDA has been heavily touting its “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” program. Tack on “know your neighbor” and you have Real Food Farm’s model for a bountiful harvest in Baltimore.
“Big Blue” before makeover Photo courtesy of Real Farm Food