Following in the tracks of Boston’s food truck pioneers, Mission Hill-based Fresh Truck use a converted school bus to bring fresh foods to underserved neighborhoods starting this spring.
“I love Boston. I’m in love with the idea of helping to make it a healthier city,” Northeastern graduate, truck co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer Josh Trautwein told the Gazette.
Trautwein had the idea for the truck while working for the Fitzgerald Youth Sports Institute at the Charlestown HealthCare Center, named after former state representative and Mission Hill native Kevin Fitzgerald. While running sport-based programs that educate youth and families around healthy eating, Trautwein “received a lot of pushback from my families,” he said.
“[They] said that it was difficult to shop for healthy foods on a regular basis because they didn’t live in close proximity to a grocery store or did not have a car,” he explained.
Based out of Mission Hill’s “The Barn” at 103 Terrace St., the former home of Mississippi’s Restaurant, Fresh Truck will be a converted school bus, with shelves where the seats used to be, and drawers on the exterior of the bus for additional space. Customers will enter through the bus’s front door, shop their way to the back before paying, and exit through the former emergency exit. The bus is expected to accept cash, cards and all forms of government assistance.
The outside will be decorated with a vibrant design, a mock-up of which appears on an introductory video on the project’s webpage. The bus will run on biofuel—used vegetable oil—and solar power. Funds totaling $30,000 raised on online crowd-funding website Kickstarter will be used to purchase and retrofit it in time for a spring launch.
Taking inspiration from food trucks, Trautwein and his business partners decided to create a mobile fresh food source for people who live in “food deserts,” or areas without reasonable access to grocery stores. They received seed money last October from Boston Rising, a local organization dedicated to ending the cycle of poverty in Boston.
Stops have not yet been determined, though they will most likely cover the neighborhoods of Roxbury and Dorchester, though the truck’s stops have not yet been finalized, Trautwein said.
“We will be structuring partnerships with health centers, community centers, nonprofits and other organizations” to maximize impact, he said.
According to a report prepared by Philadelphia-based nonprofit The Food Trust and provided to the Gazette by Trautwein, despite being one of the most affluent states in the nation, Massachusetts has fewer supermarkets per capita than almost any other state. Some cities, including Boston, have as much as 30 percent fewer per capita supermarkets compared to national averages. Mission Hill has a Stop+Shop location at Brigham Circle.
Fresh Truck’s website is thefreshtruck.org. Its Kickstarter is still accepting pledges at kck.st/FreshTruck.