Fresh Produce in Inner-City – Unique Ministry Pathway

Post a Comment » Written on September 8th, 2009     
Filed under: News
DETROIT, MI (September 8, 2009) – An innovative project started by a member of Citadel of Faith Covenant Church for making fresh produce available to inner-city residents has garnered national media attention and led the state to fund its own pilot program.

A Peaches & Greens van brings fruits and vegetables to Johanon’s neighborhood in the same way as an ice cream truck. The van travels the three-square-mile neighborhood playing rhythm and blues music as a message declares through a loudspeaker, “Nutritious, delicious. Brought right to you. We have green and red tomatoes, white and sweet potatoes. We have greens, corn on the cob and cabbage, too.”

TruckJohanon, executive director of the nonprofit Central Detroit Christian Community Development Corporation, (CDC) developed the idea because few people in the city have access to a grocery store due to lack of transportation and supermarkets. Her neighborhood is served by 26 liquor stores, but only one small independent produce store.

Experts have dubbed Detroit the “food desert.” A study conducted in 2007 by a Chicago-based research firm found that 92 percent of food providers in the city are liquor stores, gas stations, party stores, dollar stores, pharmacies, and convenience stores. Finding fresh fruit and vegetables is nearly impossible.

Shelves of produce line the converted 10-year-old UPS vehicle, which runs mid-March through mid-December. The van delivers the food six days a week from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. The van does not operate during the other months due to residents’ concerns about slipping on icy streets and sidewalks.

GardenSince starting the deliveries last year, CDC has opened a small Peaches & Greens market and a community garden. Johanon says families will eat healthy if they given the opportunity.

Two major television networks have featured the project and a story by the Associated Press was picked up by news outlets across the country. To access some of the coverage, click here.

Last month the state launched MI (pronounced “my”) Neighborhood Food Movers to provide $75,000 in seed money to provide no-interest loans for others to start similar businesses in Detroit neighborhoods. The state hopes to expand the initiative to include urban gardens, additional delivery services, cooking classes and other programs.

Johanon, who has lived in the neighborhood for 22 years, is a founding member of Citadel of Faith. To read a previous Covenant online news story about Johanon, click here.

Editor’s note: Accompanying photos are from the CDC website.

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