From farm to campus, the Veggie Van, a mobile farmers market, is making weekly stops at Grand Rapids Community College where students and staff can shop for fresh produce and prepared meals to eat on the go.
The Veggie Van will be parked from 1-2 p.m. every Tuesday in the Olivarez Student Plaza at GRCC. The van offers local and fresh produce for sale, including some prepared food items such as salads, fruit cups, and dessert treats.
The Veggie Van was first launched in June 2011 through the local YMCA, and has been steadily growing since. It now visits around 20 locations per week, year-round.
The goal of the Veggie Van is to ensure that low-income, inner city households have access to fresh and organic produce that otherwise would not. Comparatively its produce sells for similar to or less than the prices at local grocery stores: avocados cost $1 at the Veggie Van, while at a grocery store such as Meijer they can cost as much as $2. A fresh apple to grab on the go costs 75 cents and a banana 25 cents. Prices this cheap are hard to come by for a fresh, healthy snack on the go.
The Veggie Van also helps support local farmers by providing a dependable market year-round. Its partnership with Goen Produce of Allendale has enabled the family business to farm full-time.
For GRCC students, the convenience of having fresh produce delivered straight to campus has positive results on both the bodies of Raiders and their wallets. In addition to helping the greater Grand Rapids community, Raiders will be happy to know the Veggie Van accepts several food assistance programs as forms of payment, including SNAP, WIC and Double Up Food Bucks.
Currently all profits go to sustain the program, which is not yet financially self-sufficient.
“We still rely on grant money to keep afloat,” said Alice Jasper, volunteer for the Veggie Van, adding that she hopes to open more Veggie Vans in the future. “It’s our goal to become self-reliant.”