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Posts Tagged ‘huckster’

Photo: David L. Ryan/Globe Staff.
A customer got groceries at the Fresh Truck stop in the Mission Hill neighborhood of Boston.

When I was a kid, my mother sometimes bought vegetables from Mr. Mackey. Mr. Mackey was a “huckster” who came around in an old school bus, repainted blue and outfitted like a produce market. I think my mother patronized this project because it charmed her. Earle and Caroline’s mother, Grace, was more practical. She may have tested Mr. Mackey’s wares once or twice, but she objected that he was overpriced. As indeed he was.

But if nothing else, there’s something to be said for the memories generated by such “old tyme” services. My husband likes to talk about a knife grinder who frequented his childhood neighborhood. And ever since the pandemic inspired me to start getting milk delivered in glass bottles, I feel like I’m not only reducing plastic waste but preserving a happy tradition.

As to repurposed school buses carrying produce, Diana Bravo reports at the Boston Globe about a few that are now serving “food deserts” in the Boston area.

Fresh Truck “co-founder Josh Trautwein was working as a health educator at MGH Charlestown Healthcare Center,” she writes, “when he heard from local families that it was difficult to shop for healthy food because the only local grocery store was shut down for a yearlong renovation. That inspired Trautwein to start About Fresh, which operates a program called Fresh Truck to bring affordable, healthy food into Boston communities that need it most.

“The nonprofit purchases food wholesale, and during the growing season Fresh Truck buys from local growers and resells the food at around the same price to help families keep nutritious food on the table at affordable prices.

“The nonprofit operates three retrofitted school buses that have been converted to mobile grocery stores. The trucks accept a variety of payments. Beyond cash and credit, they also accept Electronic Benefit Transfer, Healthy Incentives Program, and Fresh Connect. … Before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, mobile markets would allow customers to board and shop on the three buses at 18 locations. But at the height of the pandemic, that was not possible. …

“After a brief shutdown, the program reopened with an open-air plan. Now, at most locations, customers order outside the bus while volunteers shop and package their orders.

“Customers order online in advance and pick up their produce at four locations. [Victoria Strickland, director of communications and partnerships for About Fresh,] says this has been beneficial to the nonprofit’s senior and disabled customers. As a result, Fresh Trucks hopes to continue and expand online ordering beyond the end of the pandemic.”

Sure beats food shopping for your family at “convenience” stores, where in addition to pretzels, Coke, and canned soup, a couple hard, bland apples are likely to be unconscionably marked up.

More at the Boston Globe, here. By the way, I have posted a lot of stories on how other people are addressing the challenge of food deserts. Just search on the phrase in the search box above if you’re interested.

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I’m hoping someone from my deep past will remember the name of the man who used to travel to my growing-up neighborhood in a blue-painted school bus to sell fruits and vegetables. The name “Mr. Mackey” is clawing itself to the surface, but I may have that wrong.

I had flashbacks about the huckster today when I read about the Fresh
Truck, an old idea made new in a time of urban food deserts and locavore sensibilities.

Christina Reinwald wrote the story for the Boston Globe.

“A food bus began to roll down the city’s streets Thursday. The retrofitted school bus, the brainchild of a Boston start-up called Fresh Truck, is expected to visit Boston communities that don’t have nearby grocery stores, selling fruits and vegetables.

“Fresh Truck founders Josh Trautwein and Daniel Clarke, recent Northeastern University graduates, came up with the idea last year and work full time now to serve neighborhoods in need of more healthful food options. …

“Fresh Truck raised more than $32,000 from over 300 contributors to its Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign earlier this year. It also received private donations to get started.

“Starting Monday outside the New England Baptist Hospital in Roxbury, Fresh Truck will sell its produce for about 20 percent less than average grocery prices, Trautwein said.

“Avoiding the traditional brick-and-mortar shop eliminates many operating costs for Fresh Truck.” More.

Photo: Yoon S. Byun/ Globe Staff
A food bus run by Fresh Truck, a Boston start-up, aims to serve neighborhoods in need of more healthful food options.

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