Second Harvest is getting ready to bring the feel of a grocery store straight to people who need it most, with free food distribution and nutrition information provided on a mobile market made from a converted city bus.
While Second Harvest provides food to 250 partner agencies for food bank distribution, the nonprofit has also provided large mobile distributions for more than a decade, using semi-trailers to bring as much as 10,000 pounds of food to specific places.
But with the new Mobile Market, made from a donated Spokane Transit Authority bus, volunteers and staff will also be able to provide much more streamlined and targeted distributions to people, says Julie Humphreys, Second Harvest spokeswoman.
"Logistically [the bus] is just smaller. We can get it into some of those areas that are underserved and we can really tailor the needs to a particular site or a particular group of people," Humphreys says. "An example would be a senior housing site: the people there may have a specific diet, and we can bring what we'd need there."
The Mobile Market bus was spearheaded by the Zone Project, with $65,000 in grant funding from the Smith-Barbieri Progressive Fund, and another roughly $10,000 in additional work, with labor and parts donated by Truline RV and Spokane Restaurant Equipment & Design.
Work is still ongoing to retrofit the bus with shelving, refrigeration, a generator and what's needed to provide fresh produce and products like milk, but the goal is to get out for the first distribution by the end of the summer or early fall. The first area of focus for the bus will be the Hillyard area.