CONCORD -- A nonprofit has won a grant to bring a mobile farmers market into Contra Costa neighborhoods the government has labeled as "food deserts."
The U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded the grant of $89,496 to Concord-based Fresh Approach to begin a two-year pilot program bringing local fruits and vegetables into neighborhoods in Brentwood, Concord, Pittsburg, Richmond and San Pablo. Fresh Approach currently has a weekly farm stand in Fairfield.
"We are confident that the mobile farmers market will not only help families to better meet their food needs, but will also help to sustain California farmers, keeping those food dollars circulating within our state economy," said Allen Moy, executive director of Fresh Approach, in a news release.
The nonprofit said Contra Costa was chosen because of its residents' high rates of obesity, diabetes and heart disease, its proximity to farming areas and for its "food deserts." The USDA defines a food desert as an area where low-income residents live more than a mile from a supermarket.
Food deserts in Contra Costa include homes in Richmond between Ohio Avenue and Interstate 580; a neighborhood in San Pablo bordered by Giant Road, San Pablo Avenue and Brookside Drive; homes along the west side of Highway 242 in Concord; the neighborhood near De Anza Park in Pittsburg; and a large swath of Brentwood's east side.
Fresh Approach plans to begin the service in April. It will run until October and return annually if the program is successful, said Katie Gronsky, community outreach coordinator.
The nonprofit is taking suggestions on locations where the truck should stop. Anyone with a suggestion can contact Gronsky at email@example.com.
The Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano started a similar program in July, taking a produce truck to 20 locations in central and eastern Contra Costa, stopping at three locations daily and offering free produce to low-income families.
David DeBolt covers Concord and Clayton. Contact him at 925-943-8048. Follow him at Twitter.com/daviddebolt.