Garden on the Go® Brings Fresh Produce to At Risk Indianapolis Neighborhoods
Garden on the Go® is a non-profit program that launched in May of 2011 from an Indiana University Health initiative to help combat obesity in the state of Indiana by providing at risk residents in Indianapolis communities the opportunity to have accessible and affordable access to purchase fresh, healthy foods. The Garden on the Go® mobile produce truck makes regular stops at four to five different locations a day, five days a week, stopping for approximately 45 minutes at each location. Anyone is welcome to shop at the Garden on the Go® pop-up produce markets, which include sites such as churches, health centers, schools, senior living centers, community centers, and apartment complexes.
Garden on the Go® purchases produce one day at a time from Indianapolis Fruits, purchasing only what they need to ensure the lowest possible prices by minimizing waste and keeping produce fresh. A rotating inventory of 31 – 42 different types of fruits and vegetables are available each week, with options varying according to availability and seasonality of produce available for purchase. Anytime it’s feasible organic, local, seasonal produce is purchased and made available to customers at the same price as conventional produce. Green B.E.A.N., a consulting partner of Garden on the Go® will donate or sell produce to the program as well if they ordered too much. A new refrigerated delivery truck has helped Garden on the Go® to drastically minimize waste and make further efforts to be sustainable. Any unsold Garden on the Go® produce is donated to Second Helpings and items that are blemished or past their selling point are given to customers who want them free of charge.
One regular Garden on the Go® shopper is Hoagland Elliott, Executive Director/CEO of Raphael Health Center who raved about the great prices and freshness of the Garden on the Go® produce, which on average are 20 – 30% cheaper than shopping at a grocery store.
Garden on the Go® has nearly doubled its customers since 2011 and they would love to see the program expand further to meet the customers demands by extending hours and including more neighborhoods on the delivery route. Funding is the main obstacle to the programs expansion. Each site has a target number of 30 customers to serve and site metrics are reviewed every six months to ensure that shopping sites reach as many people as possible in the limited shopping times.
Josh and Brody, Garden on the Go® employees shared a few of the many benefits customers have reported while making their purchases. Seniors and families on fixed incomes seem to receive the greatest benefit from the program. Prior circumstances required them to purchase preserved foods that had a long shelf life or easy to access fast foods. Now, families with children and seniors are reporting they can substitute fresh fruits and vegetables for their previous unhealthy snacks due to the accessibility and affordability Garden on the Go® provides them. It’s exciting for the guys to see the next generation excited and encouraged to eat fresh foods and to be able to improve the eating habits of those who are limited by their income or access to amenities. Ultimately, the program is able to inspire and enable them to eat in a healthier, more nutritious way.
To learn more about Garden on the Go and to view a list of scheduled pop up sites visit IU Health – Garden On The Go.
Marisa Heiling is a political science and biology double major at Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana and plans to attend law school after graduation to study environmental law. Contact her at: to talk more about what you are doing to live a more sustainable life.