You Gotta Have Faith: Sprout Mobile Market
Getting to a supermarket or local farm for fresh, healthy produce isn’t easy for someone who is struggling to make ends meet.
Supermarkets may be hard to reach, especially if you don’t have a car, and healthier items at local stores may be unaffordable. Sometimes, those who have lower incomes have health conditions that make it difficult to get out and buy healthy food.
That’s where the Sprout Mobile Farm Market steps in. Operated by All Faiths Food Bank, Sprout is a food truck that makes two monthly stops to about 12 locations in Sarasota, Nokomis, North Port, Venice, Englewood, and Arcadia. At each stop, those using Sprout Mobile Farm Market are able to get healthy produce donated by local grocery stores and farms.
The idea behind the Sprout Mobile Market began with the realization that many who are hungry may get canned food, but they do not get enough fresh items, says Michelle Tarullo, director of human resources at Hyatt Regency Sarasota, which partners with All Faith Foods Bank to support the Sprout truck. “Having fresh produce gives families the options to be healthier,” she says.
Leaders vetted areas around Sarasota that would benefit from Sprout, and that’s how they chose where to designate stops or drop-off locations. All Faiths began a pilot program with the truck last January, and it’s been in operation ever since, says Sprout manager Ryan Beaman.
During a pre-Thanksgiving visit by Sprout to The Courts housing community in Newtown, a group of more than 20 residents waited for the truck’s arrival. They were able to choose among items like carrots, lemons, limes, oranges, and cabbages. Other items, such as bags of kale, were given to each person. Beaman and others worked steadily inside or around the truck to keep things moving.
“I got some greens,” one resident told her friends.
“These taste better than collards to me,” another resident commented to someone else about her kale.
Sprout donates about eight to 12 pounds of produce to each person who visits, says Beaman, and the truck serves about 300 people each day it operates.
Hyatt executive chef Kory Foltz set up a small table right outside the truck to offer savory samples of Day After Thanksgiving salad. People could sample the salad and take a recipe card, which was in English and Spanish. Foltz says Sprout tries to offer recipes that are healthy and easy to make.
All Faiths Food Bank and Sprout Mobile Market will continue to flourish with help from Hyatt Regency Sarasota. In December, as part of Hyatt Community Grants, the hotel donated $20,000 to All Faiths Food Bank. All Faiths will use the funds to feed families and children among its 195 partners and programs, including the Sprout Mobile Farm Market.
Sprout is always looking for donations and volunteers to help make a difference, says Tarullo. Large-sized produce donations are also welcome, says Beaman.