Every Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m, a small white truck carries a full load of berries, apples, kale, mushroom and tomatoes fresh from nearby farms to the main quad at De Anza College.
Freshest Cargo, a farmers’ market on wheels, is operated by Fresh Approach, a Concord-based non-profit that sources all of the food from local farmers who practice organic, sustainable methods.
Freshest Cargo was brought to campus by De Anza’s Food Pantry program in spring 2018, in an effort to make food more accessible to students in need.
According to De Anza’s Outreach Office, “A recent survey of De Anza students found 58 percent are experiencing food insecurity.” In the 2017-18 academic year the De Anza Food Pantry was accessed by 409 unduplicated students a total of 2,227 times.
The Freshest Cargo program serves the entire community, but offers a 50 percent discount to all students who receive CalFresh, Supplemental Security Income, Supplemental Security Disability Income, or Medi-Cal assistance.
Patricia Camacho, 35, psychology major, has been a regular customer since the truck started selling on campus. Sometimes she gets her entire week’s groceries from Freshest Cargo.
“The berries are really cheap here, and super delicious.”
Julia White, 24, nursing major, only discovered the truck recently. She says she loves how accessible it is.
“I didn’t bring my lunch today, and I didn’t have time to run over to Whole Foods,” said White. “Now I can get a healthy snack and feel better about my eating choices.”
White also got to use her Electronic Benefit Transfer card to pay for her food and get a Market Match credit for every purchase here.
Stephanie Flores, who oversees the truck’s South Bay operation, says the truck sees about 10 customers on a good day. She would like to see “more of a line,” because her organization’s goal is to “reach out to more students, especially those with EBT cards or those who need assistance.”
In addition to Freshest Cargo, qualified students can also access the regular Food Pantry that’s operated at the Outreach Office and a newly-launched Mobile Food Pantry truck at Parking Lot C on the second and fourth Thurdays of each month, from 12:30-3:30 p.m.