Garden on the Go, Indiana University Health and Green B.E.A.N. Delivery's mobile produce truck, is on the move again, this time expanding its route to 16 stops shortly after celebrating its 5,000th transaction.
The truck, which provides fresh, affordable fruits and vegetables to low-income Marion County neighborhoods, started in May with 12 stops and has already built a strong enough following to warrant expanding the route.
Customers, who can pay with cash, credit or food stamp benefits, can also now take advantage of a Frequent Shopper Card that rewards them with $5 in free produce after 10 purchases of $5 or more. The card is intended to encourage shoppers to add more produce in their diets.
"This route expansion is yet one more important indicator that Garden on the Go is meeting an unmet need in delivering nutritious foods to our city's food deserts," said Ron Stiver, senior vice president for Engagement & Public Affairs, IU Health. "We're pleased that we'll now be able offer competitively-priced fresh fruits and vegetables to more Hoosiers in more locations, and hope that others across the state and country will look to replicate the model created by IU Health and Green B.E.A.N. Delivery."
In late September, less than five months after its launch, Garden on the Go celebrated its 5,000th sale. A recent round of surveying among shoppers also found 83 percent of the repeat customer respondents reported purchasing more produce because of Garden on the Go.
IU Health, a non-profit health system, approached Green B.E.A.N. Delivery, a for-profit produce and grocery home delivery service, about creating a program that could fight obesity and diabetes in low-income neighborhoods. According to the Indiana State Department of Health, 29 percent of adolescents and 65 percent of adults in Indiana are overweight or obese. Meanwhile, the United States Department of Agriculture notes 68 percent of residents in the nation's low-income neighborhoods live in "food deserts," or areas lacking affordable, healthy food options.
"We hope the truck will continue to make a meaningful impact on shoppers' health and lifestyles," said Green B.E.A.N. Delivery's Lincoln Saunders, director of Garden on the Go. "We're proud to partner with IU Health, who is committed to such a valuable population health strategy, and we look forward to continuing to work together."
For more information on the truck, visit http://iuhealth.org/gardenonthego. You can also follow them on Twitter @gardenongo.