Second Harvest Food Bank's Produce Mobile Program brings high-quality fresh fruits and vegetables on a refrigerated truck to people in need at various community and neighborhood locations. The Produce Mobile Program has been in operation since 2006.
"The fresh fruits and vegetables are good for the children and for our health."
-Produce Mobile Client
Access and affordability are two common and significant obstacles for many families in our region when it comes to providing fresh fruits and vegetables. Even if a household is near a store or farmers' market, they may not have access due to economic limitations. Consistent with this assumption, 81% of 583 Produce Mobile recipients surveyed in 2010 reported that they eat less produce than they would like due to cost. This is an ironic reality for a state that has the largest agricultural economy in the United States and produces large amounts of high-quality fruits and vegetables for much of the nation and the world.
Not unrelated, obesity is quite common in low-income households. A misconception exists that hungry people should be under-weight from under-eating. In fact, studies have shown that just the opposite can be true: Low-income obese individuals are often eating junk food and less nutritionally dense food because it is cheaper and they are able to purchase more for far less money.
The Food Bank is committed to getting fruits and vegetables to community members who cannot typically afford such nutritious food and sees this as part of the solution to fighting both hunger and obesity as well as establishing positive lifelong eating habits for children.
The Food Bank acquires massive quantities of donated produce through our network of local growers, the California Association of Food Bank's Farm to Family Program, and Feeding America, the national food bank network. Thanks to the generosity of local individual donors, the Food Bank purchased two special refrigerated trucks, one a hybrid-electric vehicle, complete with canopies and side doors that open up, decreasing our need to find as many inside distribution locations to accommodate inclement weather. When raining, clients can wait under the canopies without getting soaked. These vehicles enable some of our distributions to be in parking lots and neighborhoods lacking infrastructure. Because most of the produce is contained in the vehicle's storage bays, distributions using these trucks require fewer volunteers since clients can simply walk around the truck to receive their produce.
The Produce Mobile Program has enabled the Food Bank to increase the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables to those who need it most. For the recipients, the experience is similar to shopping at a farmers' market without the cost. Clients go home with an average of 5-10 produce items, weighing up to 35 lbs. Sample Produce Mobile food items can include:
Population and Region Served
An average of 10,803 households living at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level receive fresh fruits and vegetables every month at 63 sites throughout Santa Clara and San Mateo counties (39 locations in Santa Clara County; 24 locations in San Mateo County).
Of clients recently surveyed, 83% report that they are eating more fruits and vegetables since joining the Produce Mobile Program; 74% report that their children are eating more fruits and vegetables; and 77% have more money spend on other basic needs. 87% of those asked say that the fresh produce they receive from Second Harvest helps them manage their health issues and improve their overall diet.
For More Information
If you'd like to find a Produce Mobile distribution near you, please call our Food Connection line at 1-800-984-3663.