Fixing Buffalo's 'food desert' with a market on wheels

Posted at 11:44 AM, Jun 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-13 11:44:53-04

A food desert is an area without access to fresh fruits, vegetables an other healthful whole foods. They're usually found is less affluent areas without grocery stores, farmers markets and healthy food providers.

The Massachusetts Avenue Project aims to alleviate that problem in Buffalo, focusing their efforts on the west side. Using vacant lots, the urban farm plots grow 70 different varieties of fruits and vegetables throughout the year. This puts to use land that isn't being properly utilized. Buffalo youth are also included in the project, planting and tending the farms.

"Food is not a privilege, it's a right," says Diane Picard, executive director of the Massachusetts Avenue Project. That's why MAP is expanding their current program by building a brand new farmhouse, which will offer education programs, a commercial kitchen and more space to grow fruits and vegetables.

Produce grown in the urban farm lots and by local farmers are then loaded onto MAP's Mobile Market. The box truck brings fresh fruits and vegetables to neighborhoods more than 1.5 miles away from grocery stores. The Mobile Market is located at the Elim Christian Fellowship at 70 Chalmers Avenue  on Thursdays from 4 to 6 p.m. and at the Moot Community Center on 292 High Street on Fridays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Anyone is allowed to visit the truck to buy produce, but there are special benefits for SNAP recipients. SNAP recipients can "double up" on fresh foods at the truck.