Fresh moves making a return
The program now is being run by Erika Allen, an Emanuel appointee to the Chicago Park District board and the director of Growing Power Chicago, an urban farming nonprofit that grows fruits and vegetables year round on 12 acres in the city. Allen will run Fresh Moves, with its first bus debuting July 18 and plans for a second bus to start up this fall.
In 2012, the U.S. Department of Agriculture provided a one-year grant of $45,000 to help Fresh Moves to begin operating a second bus. This year, Emanuel said Vilsack agreed to a one-year grant to serve as the seed money for the latest produce bus model. Allen said the grant is for $100,000, but she believes ultimately the bus program will largely fund itself through sales.
Asked what's different about the program this time around, Allen didn't hesitate: "We grow our own food."
Under Food Desert Action's previous business model, the foundation purchased produce and turned around and sold it on the buses, operating on thin price margins. Allen argued she has far less overhead than that previous setup since her nonprofit Growing Power, which started and still operates farms in Milwaukee, provides much of the food the bus will sell.
Allen said 90 percent of what is sold on the buses will be grown in Chicago or within 200 miles of the city, with the exception being more tropical fruits such as bananas and oranges. She said the bus also will sell salads and healthy drinks and snacks that will help generate revenue.