A new grocery store is coming soon to what the U.S. Department of Agriculture has determined is a Bowling Green ‘food desert,’ where it’s difficult for residents to buy affordable or good quality fresh food.
It’s one of 12 projects in the nation, and the only one in Kentucky, that’s just been awarded a grant from CSX railroad and The Conservation Fund. It’s not a brick-and-mortar grocery, it’s a renovated school bus.
The freshly painted white bus has bright green letters and pictures of fruits, vegetables and milk. It’s called the Mobile Grocery Store and it’s a project of the Bowling Green Housing Authority.
The bus will hit the road March 4 and make 18 stops in low-income neighborhoods. The stops will include a few nursing homes to offer residents a chance to buy a few extra items or snacks.
Housing authority special projects director Katie Miller said the bus will sell food and supplies purchased ‘at cost’ through a partnership with a local grocery store. That partnership will help make purchases from the Mobile Grocery Store affordable and give local residents an alternative to picking up the same items at higher prices from local convenience stores when they can't get to a supermarket.
“We’ll have some basic staples like milk, bread, eggs, sandwich meat, " said Miller. "We’ll have some fresh fruit, some fresh vegetables, toilet paper, paper towels, canned goods, spaghetti.”
The Mobile Grocery Store addresses the issue of bringing communities fresh food that's not readily avaialble, oftentimes because of a lack of transportation.
“A lot of the low-income families that we work with have transportation barriers. The transportation system is difficult to navigate," said Miller. "And you can only have what pack what you have in your hands. So if you’re a 60-or 70-year old elderly person it’s hard to pack a lot and then you still have to walk to your home.”
The $5,000 grant to the Mobile Grocery Store will cover the cost of a cooler and freezer. The funding is part of the CSX Grant Program for Transporting Healthy Food. The bus was donated by Warren County Schools.