Oakland program brings fresh foods to poor areas

Contra Costa Times (California), August 5, 2003

Getting to the grocery store from Ethel Baldasarre's West Oakland apartment would take most folks only a dollar and a six-minute bus ride. But on 63-year-old feet worn by years of hard work, the entire trip can take Baldasarre half a day. "When you get to a certain age, it's hard," said Baldasarre, a retired longshorewoman. "It's tiresome. It takes too long just to go to Safeway, and I don't want to beg nobody to get to the store." In two weeks, Baldasarre will have a new alternative to her twice-a-week visits to the supermarket: The groceries will come to her. It's called the "Mobile Market," a solar-powered delivery truck rigged with shelves, coolers, and crates that will cruise West Oakland selling organic produce, snacks and bulk foods. It's the latest innovation in making organic food, with its elitist reputation, accessible to low-income people in a corner of the country notorious for advancing organic eating. The movable market, which will sell seasonal produce from local farmers, is the brainchild of three community activists who saw a dearth of healthy food in West Oakland, where liquor stores stake claims on every other corner and supermarkets are scarce.