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Campus & Community - Health

Drexel and Partners Bring Fresh Produce to West Philadelphia Community

June 20, 2012

Photo of Fresh Food Hub on Lancaster

Recently the Fresh Food Hub, a non-profit food truck that serves low-income customers with produce to promote healthy eating, made its debut in West Philadelphia. Beginning as a pushcart market that appeared only once a week, the truck has expanded to provide a wide variety of produce and grocery items to the West Philadelphia community.

The Fresh Food Hub is the result of a partnership between Preston's Paradise, Greensgrow Farms, the People's Emergency Center and Drexel University. Together they strive to make the Fresh Food hub a central part of building a healthier community in West Philadelphia.

The goals of the Fresh Food Hub parallel that of Drexel’s neighborhood initiative; first by helping to provide West Philadelphia families and residents with greater access to health and wellness resources and second by becoming a part of the revitalization of the Lancaster Avenue retail corridor.

Drexel’s role in the Fresh Food Hub project involves working to steer students, faculty and professional staff to shop at the truck as well as working on opportunities for students to get involved with civic engagement activities. There are currently two Drexel students involved in the project, Rhianna Cenci, a nutrition major in Drexel’s College of Nursing and Health Professions, and Nicole Koedyker, a business major in Drexel’s LeBow College of Business.

Cenci is working to develop nutrition related outreach activities and information for the Fresh Food Hub. She is also working on recipe cards that will provide shoppers with preparation instructions and information on the nutritional value of the meal. Koedyker is helping to develop a long-range business plan for the current and future success of the Fresh Food Hub.

Future goals for the truck consist of creating a sustainable business model for the production and distribution of fresh food items, while also expanding the products provided to include a variety of healthy prepared foods such as fruit salads, smoothies, healthy soups and sandwiches. The economic goals of the project include sustaining two full-time positions by the end of next year and returning money back to the local economy by obtaining food from local farms in the immediate surrounding area.

“Ultimately we hope our grocery truck will encourage students and other residents to cross over the 38th street border between Drexel and the surrounding community to support the Fresh Food Hub as well as the other great local businesses that already exist like Body Rock Gym, Colors plant store and Chic Afrique,” saidRyan Kuck, the executive director of Preston's Paradise.

Drexel plans to develop an evaluation strategy, to help ensure the project’s success within the first year. Several Drexel faculty and professional staff members from public health, culinary arts, business, and political science programs and a number of other local stakeholders are all part of an advisory committee, which provides guidance in the evaluation process.

“Drexel is excited to be working with the Fresh Food Hub to bring fresh produce and healthy snacks to our neighbors and our students,” said Lucy Kerman, vice provost for University and Community Partnerships. “Ryan is the kind of social entrepreneur who gets things done, and we are pleased to be his partner and to work with him and other community residents on this project.”

The Fresh Food Hub provides a variety of foods ranging from greens for $1 to freshly baked bread for $3. This month the truck is featuring fresh local strawberries for only $2.50 a pint. The healthy produce and groceries provided by the truck are an inexpensive, nutritious alternatives to fast and unhealthy foods.

The produce truck will be parked regularly at 37th Street and Lancaster Avenue four days a week now through November. Hours are Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from noon till 6 p.m., and Saturdays from noon until 3 p.m.

Media Contact:

Jasmin Sosa