, an organization that awards monthly, $1,000 grants to people or groups with brilliant ideas, has announced its April grantee, Farm Truck Foods, a food truck solution for Pittsburgh’s food desert dilemma.
The USDA defines a food desert as an urban-neighborhood and/or rural town without ready access to fresh, healthy and affordable foods. There are seven identified food deserts in the greater Pittsburgh area including Clairton, Millvale, McKees Rocks, Stowe, East End, North Side and Hilltop.
Michelle Lagree, Meredith Neel and Landon DePaulo are the founders of Farm Truck Foods
and are bringing their combined experiences in health to launch a food truck program that will travel to these identified desert communities and provide education and easier access to fresh, healthy foods.
“It is an honor to be able to say our business idea is a Pittsburgh Awesome Award winner,” says Lagree. “Our team knows Farm Truck Foods is something that is going to help boost Pittsburgh’s economy and health, and to have further assurance and help from a great organization like Awesome Pittsburgh makes it that much more exciting to get started.”
With the assistance of the Awesome Pittsburgh grant, Lagree says they will be able to make modifications to their truck to make it better suited for the Farm Truck Foods mission. The plan is to have a fully operational truck by this June.
“The money will be utilized for retrofitting our truck,” says Lagree. “This is a costly expense due to needing cooler space added along with storage for our produce and dried products.”
Farm Truck Foods will deliver fruits, vegetables, protein, dairy, eggs and canned goods to low-income community members at affordable prices, as well as provide educational resources such as recipes, demonstrations and samples to introduce people to new foods.
“Our model is also different than others because we are not just selling these products to the community members and leaving. We are working hand in hand with the community to provide an educational resource,” says Lagree. “We believe that our food trucks will be one of the many solutions for alleviating the lack of options within food deserts.”
In order to serve each community as effectively as possible, Lagree says Farm Truck Foods will partner with community leadership, stakeholders and members.
“The plan will be to work together with the communities to determine how Farm Truck Foods can most effectively assist the residents,” says Lagree. “The communities will help determine our stop schedules, our stop locations and types of produce we sell.”