It’s pretty quiet at 7 a.m. as Dan Clarke steers a white painted school bus through the back roads of Jamaica Plain. Emptied of the seats that once transported children, the bus has been retrofitted with a row of baskets mounted on one side and a long shelf on the other. It is now Fresh Truck, a mobile market that brings produce and whole grains to neighborhoods across the city that are most severely affected by lack of food access, the greatest percentage of which are low income.
Clarke and Josh Trautwein, recent Northeastern University grads, started the company in April 2012 but did not get the bus on the road until July. They spent their ramp-up time raising money and building partnerships with health centers, schools, and other community organizations. Now they’re on the road daily from early morning till sundown.
The first stop this morning — and every morning — is Crop Circle Kitchen, a shared commissary where Fresh Truck stores produce left at the end of the day that is too good to compost or throw out. “We try to minimize the amount we carry overnight because we want it to be as fresh as possible,” Clarke says. On a recent Wednesday, Annie Feldman, who has been working with Clarke and Trautwein, is in the bus with Clarke when it makes this stop. The two pull out a multilevel rack and pick through the stash, loading everything that’s still good onto the bus.