Food Trucks Parking in Food Deserts

The Lempert Report
February 02, 2015

It's not just the trendy neighborhoods who want fresh, healthy ingredients.

For healthy, fresh focused retailers, like Whole Foods, it might not make sense to head out to low income neighborhoods, or areas that are not population dense, but that doesn't mean there's no demand for that kind of food. As noted in a recent article in Fast Company, across the country, premium food categories are becoming more mainstream. In fact,  according to the USDA, some organic food is now available in 3 out of 4 conventional grocery stores. Organic sales in the U.S. totaled $35.1 billion last year, up 11.5% from the previous year, and 81% of families surveyed by the Organic Trade Association reported buying organic at least once. Fast Company also reminds us of some other main stream stores that are bending to consumer demand for healthier fare, Chick-fil-A for example,  is promising antibiotic-free meat and Wal Mart has launched it's own line of organics as well as promoting things like sustainable seafood.  Healthy, fresh, organic or sustainable, whatever the "trend"it's not longer marginalized to wealthier neighborhoods.

This is why entrepreneurs are realizing the benefit of taking food trucks or meal kit companies to a wider variety of neighborhoods. For example, meal-kit companies like Plated, Blue Apron, and HelloFresh who, because they ship their food through companies like FedEx, are able to compete in a wide variety of areas. And as they're finding,  the competition is lying in neighborhoods where organic or local ingredients are not found so easily. Plated CEO Nick Taranto was quoted in Fast Company, he said "We saw there were millions and millions of people who have this aspiration to eat better…That aspiration of eating well is disconnected from the reality of the food consumers people are able to get." But unfortunately geographic restrictions often come with budget restrictions so meal delivery services might not always be an option. But that's where mobile food trucks can step in, and in some cases are already doing so. In Boston for example, Fresh Truck, a mobile market brings produce and whole grains to  city wide neighborhoods  most severely affected by lack of food access, and largely which are low income.