Mobile farmers market provides healthy food options

EOPS assistant Chau Tran shops at Fresh Approach’s mobile farmers market in the Campus Center Plaza on June 19, 2017.

By Michael Santone, Associate Editor

Fresh and affordable produce will be offered to Contra Costa College students through October via Fresh Approach’s mobile farmers market on Mondays from 10:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. near the Student Services Building.

The variety of produce, which range from strawberries, tomatoes and lettuce to squash and asparagus, are California grown as well as spray and pesticide free.

Fresh Approach is a Bay Area serving non-profit working with the community to provide nutrition programs along with fresh fruits and vegetables.

East Bay Route Manager Madaly Alcala said it is grown with love from farms and farmers who practice “holistic” growing.

“Our mobile market is versatile and provide for those communities with no access to healthy food,” she said. “Our main goal is to fill the void of these food deserts that plague low income communities.”

After a successful six-month pilot in 2016, the City of San Pablo is funding another six weeks as an alternative to a weekly stationary farmers’ market.

CCC is just one stop, along with Wanlass Park in San Pablo, San Pablo City Hall and West County Health Center.

Alcala contacts farmers from around Central and Northern California who help out by providing the fruits and vegetables at a wholesale price.

The produce is then dropped off at a local farmers’ market where Alcala picks it up to prepare for the mobile farmers’ market.

“Everything is picked and delivered within two days,” she said, “You can taste the difference in quality and freshness.”

Alcala said fresh foods can be really expensive, especially in underserved communities, but Fresh Approach offers half off to those with Electronic Benefit Transfer, Social Security and WIC benefits.

“I feel better supporting a small business rather than a large corporation,” Counseling Office Assistant Jenna Hornbuckle said. “It’s a really good idea to help serve the community and small farms.” 

Peer counseling student Tina Cruz said she and her sister were just going to get ready to have a burrito before (from Brix) they noticed the mobile farmers’ market.

“This is such a wonderful idea. I love the flowers and all the fruits smell amazing.”

“We really love what we do,” Alcala said. “The farmers and Fresh Approach really support our communities.”

Hornbuckle said she thinks the farmers’ market on wheels is a great opportunity for students to choose more healthy snacks over a bag of chips.

She said the prices are better than at Whole Foods where her husband works and she frequently shops.

For stone fruits, such as peaches and plums, you are paying more than a dollar less, Hornbuckle said.

Cruz said the other day she bought a couple baskets of strawberries and they were three times as much as what’s offered by Fresh Approach.

“Two dollars, you can’t beat it,” Cruz said. “We are students, we need healthy choices that are affordable.”

Fresh Approach’s mobile farmers’ market will be located near the Student Services Building, across from Lot 2 every Monday.