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Mobile grocery store takes fresh approach to making healthy, affordable food accessible in Calgary

The new Fresh Routes bus will be rolling through select Calgary communities by the end of October.
The new Fresh Routes bus will be rolling through select Calgary communities by the end of October. Global News

A new mobile grocery store is driving through barriers to ensure Calgarians living in underserved neighbourhoods have access to healthy and affordable food.

Fresh Routes came to fruition following the success of a four-month pilot project organized by the City of Calgary and the Leftovers Foundation in the fall of 2018.

“We’re going into communities that generally face barriers to accessing affordable and healthy groceries,” explained Fresh Routes co-founder Anna Johnson.

Fresh Routes began operating as a mobile community food market, but the acquisition of a retrofitted City of Calgary transit bus now allows the group to easily transport its healthy offerings to even more locations without the hassle of set-up or tear-down.

“For individuals who have mobility issues, or even things like [they] don’t have a car or can’t afford transit or whatever the case may be, we’re going right to them, so eliminating those barriers,” Johnson said.

Fresh Routes currently operates over 60 routes per month in 20 communities throughout Calgary. It will be launching in Edmonton later this week.

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It’s only in Calgary, however, where you’ll see the brightly-coloured former City of Calgary bus, which was officially unveiled this week.

The new Calgary bus is also a first of its kind in the province.

“It’s the first mobile grocery store with a fridge,” Johnson said. “So we’ll basically be able to keep all or our produce in there, our eggs — so it’s one of a kind.”

People can shop for fresh fruit and produce, eggs and bread at what Johnson says is the “best affordable price you can find.”

Fresh Routes is a non-profit social enterprise and as such, any profits made are put directly back into the organization.

“We purposely did it that way so the community knows we’re doing this for them and with them,” Johnson said.

Fresh Routes is expected to commence its newest route, the Nutrien Line, by the end of October.