This summer, a converted school bus is making stops in low-income communities in DeKalb County to sell fresh produce. It's a program that's been up and running for two years from the county government and the University of Georgia Extension in DeKalb.
Edda Cotto-Rivera, who was staffing the bus on Friday, said it's not only about food, it's also about education.
“We usually have, like you see, a recipe that we share with people. We do a nutrition lesson when people come to our stops, and we also give a lesson on how to prepare, how to store the produce as well,” she said.
The bus visits 12 different locations in DeKalb.
“The mobile market brings produce at a reasonable price,” said Vivian Moore, who was visiting the bus on its stop in Decatur. “Also the good networking because I always meet somebody here.”
Fulton County has had a similar program since 2011, though it has even more of an educational focus. Two trucks make visits to churches, parks, senior centers and libraries. Staff offer cooking classes and information on gardening in a series of classes, then they give the vegetables away for free to participants.
“I can’t bring a grocery store into a particular neighborhood,” said Menia Chester, director of Fulton County Cooperative Extension. “But I can teach you to prepare what you have and I can teach you how to grow it.”
The education aspect is important, said Chester, because sometimes people don’t know what to do with vegetables, even once they have access to them.
“At one point I handed somebody a bunch of carrots with the tops on them, and she said ‘What am I supposed to do with this?’” Chester said she had to show her how to take the greens off the top, then the woman knew what to do from there.
Clayton County is also planning on rolling out a mobile vegetable program with nutrition classes later this year.
Faisal Quyyumi contributed to this story.