Healthy Eating Options Expand With Arrival of Green Grocer Program


Sonja Reis | MRCDC

Another portion of the Healthy Sto-Rox initiative is a weekly mobile farmer’s market offering fresh, affordable produce options for the general public. As part of this program, the Green Grocer truck pulled into the Sto-Rox community Oct. 18 and will visit each Tuesday from noon to 1 p.m.

The year-round pop-up market being held outside 5 GB’s Fresh Foods on Chartiers Avenue is one of seven weekly stops throughout Allegheny County for the Green Grocer truck which offers fresh fruits, vegetables, meats and whole grain items. During the growing season, much of the produce is locally sourced and available to consumers at cost.

“It’s solving the food desert issue, those areas where you can’t walk to 14813367_10154120992891795_766584626_oget fresh foods,” says Dan Lubinsky, an AmeriCorps Vista member, working with Green Grocer.

A project of the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, Green Grocer is helping alleviate food inequality by creating access to those in neighborhoods that do not have availability of fresh, healthy, affordable foods.

Dozens of local residents gathered for the kick-off event which included offerings from Just Harvest, Live Well Allegheny, Women Infants and Children (WIC) and Community Kitchen Pittsburgh (CKPgh).

A mission-based food service company providing culinary workforce training and placement supports for adults with barriers to employment, CKPgh provided cooking demonstrations and samples during the grand opening event. The group also serves as a vendor for the fresh foods market stocking several varieties of sandwiches.

McKees Rocks resident Michele Mlynarksi was one of the first to line up to buy fresh produce. She and her daughter Rebecca Thompson say they were excited by the arrival of the Green Grocer truck and the more than 25 varieties of fruits and vegetables available for purchase.

“Access to fresh healthy foods is critical for healthy living,” says Dr. Karen Hacker, director of the Allegheny County Health Department in a release. “We are proud to support innovative efforts like the Green Grocer and Fresh Corners programs to decrease the food deserts,” she says.

Fresh Corners is another initiative recently launched to the area by McKees Rocks Community Development Corporation partner Just Harvest. This provides access to a basic selection of fresh produce items with longer shelf lives such as potatoes, tomatoes and onions.

These Fresh Corners mini-marts can be found inside the following area stores:

  • In and Out Corner Store, corner of Helen and Ella streets, Bottoms.
  • Rocks Express convenience store, corner of Frederick and Churchill streets, McKees Rocks.
  • 5 GB’s Fresh Foods, 1100 Chartiers Ave., McKees Rocks.

“I think it’s a good start to a healthy collaboration in the Rocks,” said Scott Baker, company owner of 5 Generation Bakers, where 5 GB’s is housed.

Baker said his group is working toward expanding payment options at the fresh market. By the end of November, the store will be able to 14876127_10154120961531795_1397214518_oaccept WIC vouchers in addition to the SNAP benefits they already take. Saturday hours are being added in order to qualify as a WIC authorized store. Hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays.

The Green Grocer mobile farmer’s market will be in McKees Rocks from noon to 1 p.m. each Tuesday. During the winter months, the market will move inside the location.

Besides cash and credit, Green Grocer accepts SNAP and Farmers Market Nutrition Program vouchers as payment.

In related news, we’d love to update you on the success of another Healthy Sto-Rox initiative that has gotten off to an amazing start. The Family Table program highlighted in August’s issue has reservations filled several weeks in advance.

 During the course, families learning how to plan, shop for and safely prepare nutritious meals while practicing the art of conversation and bonding as they gather around the Family Table to enjoy the meal they just prepared.