New food truck bringing produce to east side food deserts

INDIANAPOLIS - A new partnership will begin Friday to feed Indianapolis families. The program, called the Rolling Harvest Food Truck, was launched by Community Health Network and Brandywine Creek Farms.

The executive director at Brandywine Creek Farms, Jonathan Lawler, said his farms have worked with Hancock Regional Health for quite some time to address food insecurity and chose to work with the Community Health Network because he felt it was doing the most to help address the limited access of affordable and nutritious food in Marion County.

“A bag of chips is cheaper than a bell pepper," said Lawler. "That’s a shame, it shouldn’t be that way. Hopefully, we can change that and Community is helping us do that.”

Community Health Network said WalkScore.com has ranked Indianapolis last among major U.S. cities for access to healthy foods. Only five percent of residents live within a five-minute walk of a grocery store.

The lack of access to healthy food especially on the east side has recently become more acute with the recent closing of the Marsh grocery stores at 21st and Post Road and the Irvington Plaza.

“We’re just very pleased to have this partnership with an Indiana farmer who is producing Indiana food for our Indiana residents," said Priscilla Keith, the executive director of Community Benefit for Community Health Network.

It's early in the harvesting season, but Brandywine Creek Farms will make its first delivery Friday. The truck won't be full, but that will change as more vegetables on the farm become ripe for picking.

"We are just getting the little bits we are getting right now and getting it out to the people," Lawler said. "By the end of July through first frost, we plan on trying to overfill the east side.”

One stop the truck will make is at the Cupboard food pantry in Lawrence Township.

“We serve about 1,200 families a month and what we find is with all these families is that they need access to healthy food," said the pantry's coordinator, Molly Mattocks. "There is healthy food out there and there are people who need it so it’s being the bridge point there and this truck will really help with that.”

Deliveries through the Rolling Harvest Food Truck begin Friday, July 7. Locations include:

  • Community Hospital East - 1500 N. Ritter Ave. - Tuesdays from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
  • CAFE - 8902 E. 38th St. - Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
  • The Cupboard food pantry - 7101 Pendleton Pike - Fridays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Shepherd Community Center - 4107 E. Washington St. - Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Lawler said his farms are soon adding greenhouses which will allow them to continue providing in-season produce past the fall's first frost, which will help more Hoosiers for a longer period of time.

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