Frederic Laforge Co-Founder & CEO @ The Farmers' Truck

Fighting For Social Justice — One Veggie At A Time

2 min read

Andy from Fresh Approach

In this second article from our Inspiring Changemaker Series, we’re happy to share the story of Andy Ollove. He is a healthy food access activist and social justice fighter, from Fresh Approach in California. 

Social Justice: From Theory To Practice

As a Social Justice graduate from New York University, Andy Ollove quickly found the link between social justice and food access and jumped into action.

Working in farmers’ markets fresh out of college in NYC and later volunteering at an avocado farm in Chile, followed by travels in Mexico. He saw first-hand how communities with less healthy food access have shorter life expectancies. Sometimes cutting people’s life short by a decade. 

“That is just a clear example of how inequity translates to earlier death, and personally, it is a cause worth fighting for.”

On his return to the United States, Andy moved to the West Coast, to start a position as Food Access Program Manager at Fresh Approach, a San Francisco-based non-profit, which works on increasing community access to fresh healthy foods and nutrition education. He saw this role as a good opportunity to explore the social justice questions he had studied in school. Especially, how can food be an agent for social justice? 

Andy Ollove (right)

Driver Of Change

It was Andy’s first week on the job, three years ago, when he was invited to drive along with Fresh Approach’s Mobile Farmers’ Market. 

“What we experienced that day, and I’m sure this is true for other MFM as well, is just the sense of joy that a lot of participants get when they visit the truck.”

He describes customers at a senior center stop being surprised, as they had never seen anything like it. Amazed by the quality of the fresh produce sourced directly from small-scale, minority, and first-generation, local farmers. Their excitement grew by the fact that shoppers receiving federal benefits could purchase the produce at a 50 percent discount. 

Fresh Approach’s MFM serves a diverse community, the majority falling below the medium-income level of the area. The place where 70 percent are people of color and 20 percent are seniors.  

Shoppers at Fresh Approach’s mobile market truck

The Food Security Puzzle

“For us, we think of the Mobile Farmers’ Market as a piece to our overall programming network. They are a piece to a larger puzzle of food security solutions.”

Considering the $120,000 in local produce sold at #MFM stops, the 12 cities served in the area. And the 58 small farms benefiting from this programming in 2018. Andy says the real impact of the #MFM’s initiative can be felt in the day-to-day interactions with the community. 

Check out Mobile Farmers’ Market Leaders in Increasing Healthy Food Access

“Sometimes we see our low-income customers get [discounts], sometimes we see the same shoppers bring us a small donation because they are just so thankful for the service we offer, that they want to give back to us.” 

Cici and Clara, Fresh Approach’s MFM trucks, nicknamed by staff since they serve primarily Contra Costa and Santa Clara counties, will soon be welcoming a new member to the family

Healthy Food Access 24/7

As the route covers mostly the same places every week, Fresh Approach doubles-down on community building. Being more than just a delivery service, they strive to really be community members. 

The kind gesture of one shopper, Maria, comes to mind. “Every week Maria will come and bring the #MFM staff tostadas that she made, or soups, or a flan,” he says.

“It’s a funny thing to think our job is to bring food, but then our grateful customers bring us food right back.”

Fresh Approach plans on adding a third mobile farmers’ market in the near future. Andy hopes this will bring them a step closer to achieving the larger vision of increasing their neighbourhoods’ access to fruits and vegetables every hour of every day.

Did you like this story? Check out the first article from our Inspiring Changemaker Series: Meet Fresh Vibes Market from New York City

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Frederic Laforge Co-Founder & CEO @ The Farmers' Truck

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