Farmers’ market prices don’t match everyone’s food budget, but Freshest Cargo, a mobile market truck, is out addressing that concern in some of the least-served East Bay and South Bay communities. Operated by the nonprofit Fresh Approach, the market trucks sell surprisingly affordable, just-picked local fruits and veggies. Produce is sourced from area farms and rarely costs more than $2 per pound, never more than $2.50. To offer the best possible prices, market truck managers work with more than 40 farms, seeking out the best deals each week. Much of the market’s food is organic or grown using permaculture-based practices.
The East Bay Freshest Cargo market truck travels to Richmond, Pittsburg, and Pleasant Hill and has added stops in San Pablo and Antioch. The goal is to reach food deserts, where access to fresh produce is low and income is likewise low. Mobile markets accept CalFresh and WIC payments and participate in Market Match, a state program for low-income residents through which Freshest Cargo offers an additional $20 for $20 spent at the market on a given day. This is the highest match offered in Contra Costa County, where about a third of mobile market shoppers receive CalFresh benefits. Customers also have the option of banking their credits to use later in the month when their CalFresh benefits have run out. Market trucks roll up to a variety of convenient sites, including community centers, junior colleges, health clinics, and public schools.
Looking to expand its mobile market services, Fresh Approach collaborates with community centers, libraries, and county health departments to identify potential market sites. The group is in the early planning stages for a possible East Oakland site.
In 2015, about 23,000 people in Contra Costa County shopped at a neighborhood mobile market. The truck operates four days weekly, with East Bay routes and times listed on these pages with the Freshest Cargo symbol.