The Veggie Van is a community-based food education tool that provides much-needed resources for communities without easy access to full-scale grocery stores and markets.
The distinct, bright green Veggie Van rotates between a variety of locations throughout Columbus. The van is accompanied by its signature tent, table of fresh produce, and smiling staff members. They aim to brighten up neighborhoods and dinner plates.
Created by Local Matters in the summer of 2019, the Veggie Van has wasted no time in tackling the issue of food insecurity in Columbus. When faced with the COVID pandemic, Food Access Coordinator Megan Lu and her team looked at the inevitable adversity as an even greater opportunity to serve their community.
"Our COVID response was doubling down on what we knew we could do, which was bringing fresh food and vegetables to areas in need. "
In addition to their regular locations, the Veggie Van makes a point of partnering with local businesses, schools, churches, and other organizations to ensure a wide variety of access points in places underrepresented by healthy food options. School programs allow children to expand their knowledge of fruits and vegetables while also learning about nutrition and healthy habits.
It's not just about food access, it's also about food education.Megan Lu: Food Access Coordinator
For those individuals needing government assistance, the Veggie Van has been a valuable tool for picking up much-needed groceries. With a "one-for-one" SNAP program, participants can be reimbursed up to 25 dollars with tokens they can use for future healthy purchases in a variety of locations around Columbus.
One thing is for certain, with their fresh take on fighting food insecurity, a dedicated team, and a van full of healthy options, this is one Columbus group that is here to stay.