If they can’t come to the mountain, why not bring the mountain to them? This was the thought as the Discovery Triangle brought its Fresh Express to GateWay for the first time.
The stop provided an opportunity to students, staff and the community to purchase produce at low prices.
“We are taking this mobile produce market to schools and neighborhoods around the Discovery Triangle because this area is a food desert,” said Sara Dial, chief development officer for the Discovery Triangle. “We want the people that live and work in this area to have access to fresh fruits and vegetables.”
The Discovery Triangle is an area that is flanked by ASU’s main campus, Papago Park and Downtown Phoenix. This area has been recognized as an asset rich region that is primed for redevelopment and reinvestment.
GateWay Community College is a part of this area and has developed strong ties with the Discovery Triangle Development Corporation. In fact, their offices are housed at the Center for Entrepreneurial Innovation, which sits on GateWay’s campus.
The idea for the Fresh Express started a few years ago when St. Luke’s Health Initiative released a study that highlighted the importance of eating healthy. The Discovery Triangle realized there are limited options in this area for fresh produce and decided to bring it to the community.
For adult learner Lucia Ontiveros, the Fresh Express provided an easy option to purchase groceries.
“It is great that they bring the food to the people that want to take advantage of this,” said Ontiveros. “I think that for being fresh and good quality, the prices are very good.”
Routine stops include schools, senior centers and other key community gathering places in underserved neighborhoods. When the bus arrived at GateWay it had full shelves. One hour later, most of the items had been purchased.
“Health is really important, especially in this area. If we want kids to be successful they need to be healthy. They are not going to learn in school if they don’t eat well.”
The Fresh Express will visit GateWay on Thursdays from 9:30 – 10:30 a.m. To learn more please visit discoverytriangle.org/farmexpress/. During its most recent stop for Earth Day, the bus also brought along a number of nursing students from Arizona State University whom provided free health screenings to attendees.
“We have had a very positive response from the community. Our pricing is very competitive,” said Dial. “We are a non-profit, we are not here to make money. This is a social enterprise.”
The bus is made possible thanks to the support of Valley Metro, First Transit, Bluemedia and others.