MUNCIE, Ind. – Next week, several farms around Delaware County will have their fruits and vegetables making the rounds to area food deserts.
The Munice Food Hub Partnership will roll out its Mobile Farmers Market, designed to help local farmers sell their crops and address food insecurity.
"Delaware County has some of the highest food insecurity rates in the state and certainly in the nation," said Josh Gruver, the director of the mobile farmers market.
Gruver, who is a natural resources and environmental management associate professor at Ball State, added that an estimated 20% of children and 15% to 17% of adults are food insecure.
"That's quite an issue," said Gruver.
The partnership works by purchasing local produce from seven area farmers. That food is then sold in known food deserts, at local neighborhoods, parks and libraries.
"It's that model of the ice cream truck and bringing it to you," said Gruver.
One farmer tied to the program is Jesse Landess.
"In this area, we can provide a lot of things locally for folks," Landess said.
The farmer was finishing up his strawberry season. He grows them on six acres in southern Delaware County.
"Hopefully it helps people develop good habits," said Mary Lou Gentis, who works near the Maring-Hunt Community Garden. The truck stops there every Tuesday from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The truck picks up produce from its farmers each Monday. The next three days, the truck visits area places around town. Food leftover on Friday is donated to area soup kitchens and food pantries.
The program will run until roughly the end of October, which typically is the end of the growing season in central Indiana.
Local residents may use several methods of payment – including WIC, Senior Farmers Market Program benefits, IU Health Bucks, and Wellness Bucks. Each of these alternative payment programs reduces the cost of the produce.
Gruver said graduate students at the university manage the truck and the sales. The students can help direct people who might qualify for one of the assistance programs.