Flint Fresh Food Hub connects residents to farmers and fresh, locally-grown produce

FLINT, Michigan — Local farms and shareholders have collaborated to form Flint Fresh Food Hub and Mobile Market, developing strategies that support an equitable and sustainable food system that assures easier access to healthy eating in Genesee County. At least 24 local farmers are currently contributing to the Flint Fresh Hub. The hub is comprised of three main distribution systems: the Mobile Market delivery program, Flint Fresh Veggie Box Program, and Wholesale and Processing opportunities. 

The lack of access to fresh food is an ever-present concern. As of 2016, Flint has been deemed an urban food desert and has seen the closure of five of its last six large chain grocery stores over the past 10 years. Many residents are going out of their way to access healthy and affordable food but the Flint Fresh Food Hub is actively working to change that narrative.

The hub's main agenda is to offer a source of food integrity to the community while supporting the social, environmental, and economic benefits of our community. Its mission is to support the local economy and keep the collective carbon footprint in check by reducing the time from harvest to plate while upping the nutritional content of food. 

The 26,000 square food hub became a reality thanks to generous donations from the Michigan Department of Education, Community Foundation of Greater Flint, Michigan Health Endowment Fund, Tides Foundation, and Blue Cross Blue Shield Blue Care Network.

The Flint Fresh Food Hub, located at 3325 E Court St. in Flint.What is the Mobile Market delivery program?

The Flint Fresh Mobile Market is a haulable food truck, extending into a produce stand that remains stationary at the Flint Farmers' Market (300 E 1st St) on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11:00 a.m. to around 4:00 p.m., and the Foodie Commons Food Truck Park (402 W Court St) on Wednesdays and Fridays from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The Mobile Market has championed bringing healthy food directly to neighborhoods, schools, senior facilities, early childhood development centers, and special events.

What is The Flint Fresh Veggie Box?

The Flint Fresh Veggie Box Program offers residents the luxury and autonomy of fresh produce by home delivery. Flint Fresh will bring a variety of fruits and vegetables to homes and businesses within the city of Flint, or boxes can be picked up at their facility located at 3325 E Court St. Veggie Boxes are available in small and large sizes.

In alignment with the mission to provide an integral source of produce, each box will have a list of the farmers who grew your food and where they are located. Depending on box size, residents choose from a list of 3-6 fruit and vegetable options. The fruit is sourced both from Michigan and outside of the region for more variety. Based on the selection, considering availability, vegetables are likely sourced from Michigan. À la carte boxes are available year-round. 

Large A La Carte Box offered in the Flint Fresh Veggie Box Program.Orders placed from Saturday to Tuesday can expect to be delivered on Thursday of that week, while orders placed from Wednesday through Friday can expect to be delivered on the following Tuesday. 

Flint Fresh extends its relationship with local growers to consumers, providing access to wholesale and processing benefits. Their wholesale program serves as a link to consumers between saving the time required to create and maintain partnerships. Benefits for suppliers include sourcing smaller quantities from individual suppliers and the convenience of freeing suppliers from delivering, invoicing, and collecting payments from customers. 

Flintside caught up with Flint resident Bobby Blake, Assistant Manager of Flint Fresh Mobile Market, alongside cohorts Natonio and Nathaniel Thomas outside of the Foodie Commons Food Truck Park. "Seeing the various types of produce we offer encourages me to be open to try new things and has changed my diet in some ways," shares Natonio. Nathaniel is also actively learning about his diet during his time working for Flint Fresh. He mostly enjoys providing others with healthier options to eat and fresh produce to cook with.

Blake has been managing the Flint Fresh Food Hub since 2019 and relishes the opportunity to be of service to the community. 

The social, environmental, and economic benefits of buying local food. (Photo credit: Taste the Local Difference | localdifference.org/why-local)Flintside: In what ways have you seen Flint Fresh impact communities?

B. Blake: "Mainly, by responses we’ve received. Customers are always sharing gratitude with us. They appreciate the locations that we show up to. By having the mobile food truck we’re able to be in spaces where people may not have transportation or have a market in which there is fresh produce being sold at reasonable prices. We’ve seen how the mobile market is more readily available to people."

Flintside: Would you say that food integrity is considered when sourcing your produce?

B. Blake: "Well, we are very selective with the farmers that we collaborate with, and usually, our produce speaks for itself through the responses we receive from our customers. We’re proud to display our farmers on our trucks. It’s beneficial for people who are concerned about where the produce is being sourced and if they have more specific questions."

Flintside: What more can we look forward to from Flint Fresh and its interactions with the city of Flint?

B. Blake: "We are expanding the programs. On any given day, we could receive a grant to bring our mobile market to a designated area, or we may receive grants to pass certificates out to the community for fresh produce. Everything that comes our way is elevating us to the next level of servitude."

Flint Fresh accepts most traditional payment methods along with SNAP benefits (EBT/Bridge Card), Double Up Food Bucks, and Prescriptions For Health. For more information about the Flint Fresh Food Hub and Mobile Market, visit: flintfresh.com
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Read more articles by Jarielle Tasha Nettles.