New mobile fresh food market works to put a dent in Denver food deserts
Author: Kristen Aguirre
Published: 8:57 PM MDT May 10, 2018
Updated: 8:34 AM MDT May 11, 2018
LIFE 0 Articles

For some of us, picking up groceries at the nearest market can take a five-minute drive. For others, it might take three buses to get there. A new non-profit said that shouldn't happen.

So, it's bringing the food to you.

"It's a little bit of an adventuresome set up for sure, lots of bumps but it's a lot of fun," said Ashleigh Ruehrdanz.

Ruehrdanz and her partner Steven Lockhart started Any Street Grocery. It's a nonprofit mobile grocery store that provides better access to healthy affordable options for people who otherwise may not have that.

"People want to buy food, they're able to buy food but they're using their food dollars on transportation to actually get to the food," Ruehrdanz said. "I got the idea, how can we bring food to people."

She and Lockhart, both Colorado natives, met in grad school and had the same passion for urban agriculture. They decided to create Any Street Grocery.

"A lot of them have to travel more than a mile to have access to heathy affordable options," Lockhart said.

The mobile market was incorporated in 2015 and it officially launched in February.

Ruehrdanz said there are 14 food deserts in Denver. The map pictured below from Denver's Department of Public Health and Environment (DDPHE) highlights the areas in the metro area that have limited food access. Any Street Grocery is targeting those neighborhoods like Montbello and Green Valley.

A look at local food deserts. (Photo: Provided to 9NEWS)
A look at local food deserts. (Photo: Provided to 9NEWS)

"If you're walking, if you're taking a bus people have to take multiple buses to get to the nearest grocery store," Lockhart said.

DDPHE says they're working on updating the map. The department actually teamed up with Any Street Grocery and awarded them a grant to help get started.

"The most amazing part is being able to talk to the community and hear from them about how much they appreciate this option," Lockhart said.

Ruehrdanz said the food has a small up charge compared to other grocery stores and it accepts cash, credit cards and snap.

"We're not here to make money, we're here to provide access," she said.

It's access that could otherwise be a few bus trips away.

"We're not going to solve food deserts with our concept," Ruehrdanz said. "We are working to put a major dent in food deserts for sure."

Right now, Ruehrdanz and Lockhart work full-time jobs and work on the bus during their free time. They hope to eventually have a regular market schedule five to seven days a week in multiple neighborhoods and many more food buses. But until then, click here to find their next stop.

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