Back in May of 2013, Saint Patrick Community Outreach, the Vance Avenue Collaborative and the University of Memphis graduate program in City and Regional Planning created the Green Machine. This renovated Memphis Area Transit bus into a mobile fresh market, delivering produce to areas that don’t have access to supermarkets. Living in a suburb, I often forget that many people don’t have have access to supermarkets. There are at least 7 supermarkets within 5 miles of my home, and I take that for granted. In certain neighborhoods of Memphis, they don’t have this luxury. Instead, families in those areas just buy food from convenience stores or from fast food restaurants that are on every corner. The Green Machine gives those families another option, a healthier option.
Hired staff along with volunteers work in and drive the bus around to 15 different locations within the greater metropolitan area. At each location, they open the doors of the bus, which has been renovated to look similar to a grocery store, to people in need of fresh produce. All of the produce comes from Easy Way Produce, a family owned fresh grocery store only found in Memphis. All of the produce from Easy Way come from localfarms in Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Missouri. Not only does the Green Machine offer fresh fruits and vegetables, it also offers educational information about health and even suggest meal ideas with the items found in the bus. In an area where at least one person in every family is a diabetic or has some sort of dietary related disease, education becomes a very important tool that can save lives. Even today the Green Machine is still driving around Memphis giving fresh produce to families that aren’t able to access them on their own.