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Fresh Truck Is Ready to Keep Rolling

Boston-area nonprofit one of 134 recipients of $15,000 grant from Citizens Bank’s Small Business Recovery Program

By Tiffany Cuddihy | Citizens Bank Staff

In a time when there’s so much uncertainty, one thing is abundantly clear: Good people are all around us. Good people doing amazing work, helping their communities stay safe and positive, and, in the case of one Boston-area nonprofit, well fed.

“More than 100,000 local families don’t have the food they need to be healthy,” says Josh Trautwein, Co-Founder and CEO of Fresh Truck.

Under normal circumstances, Fresh Truck, a nonprofit founded in 2013 that supplies healthy food to Greater Boston households, offers a mobile grocery store to neighborhoods without reliable access to fresh, nutritional foods. These bright green mobile grocery stores are designed to stand out in an effort to draw people in and make them feel welcome. Stepping onto one is like visiting a farmers’ market on wheels: fruits and vegetables like peppers, apples, bananas, and avocados line the length of the vehicle, which usually visits 25 sites each week. On top of the mobile grocery stores, Fresh Truck has a “Fresh Connect” program, which partners with local hospitals to offer healthy food to patients who are unable to afford it themselves.

In these unprecedented times, Fresh Truck is needed more than ever. The rise in hunger issues is so devastating: according to a recent survey conducted by the Brookings Institution, nearly one in five young children in the United States are not getting enough to eat since the COVID-19 pandemic erupted.

With this in mind, Citizens Bank is happy to announce Fresh Truck as one of 134 recipients of a $15,000 grant through the Small Business Recovery Program. The program was created to provide small business customers financial support during the COVID-19 crisis to pay their staff, replace lost income, and prepare for recovery. Citizens has awarded more than $2 million in grants to local businesses.

“For Citizens to recognize our work and think of us for the grant, especially at this moment, feels so good,” says Trautwein. “Our bank is investing in us and our mission, and we are so grateful that Citizens is standing by their business customers in such an impactful way.”

Due to the pandemic, Fresh Truck’s mobile grocery store is unable to function normally. It’s temporarily become a “fresh air market,” using open spaces around the communities to offer a safe way for Boston’s food insecure population to get their food while practicing social distancing.

The fresh-air-market food is pre-selected and pre-bagged for customers in advance. This “pick-up-and-go” method has been implemented to keep lines from forming and groups from gathering together. Fresh Truck is also offering “Fresh Box,” a contactless delivery service that drops off 25-35 pounds of healthy food to select households in need.

“We’re currently serving around 8,000 households a week,” Trautwein says.

All these efforts to adapt require extra funding. Local produce wholesaler Katsiroubas Brothers is helping Fresh Truck’s efforts by providing labor and trucks. The partnership between the two is a prime example of how neighbors helping neighbors is still a valued way of getting things done, perhaps now more than ever.

“This grant money,” Trautwein says, “will be used to help pay for delivery drivers, labor, and trucks during the COVID-19 pandemic and into the future.”

Fresh Truck’s green truck makes contactless deliveries to 8,000 households per week.

Fresh Truck offers contactless delivery to roughly 8,000 households a week.

It’s obvious Trautwein believes strongly in the power of community. He considers the families who rely on Fresh Truck to be friends; some children have even grown up getting groceries from Fresh Truck. Their goal, even now, is for everyone to celebrate food and enjoy good nutrition.

“It shouldn’t matter how much money you have,” Trautwein says. “You should always have the food you need to be healthy.”

Fresh Truck isn’t slowing down. The demand won’t rest, and neither will they.

Ready to help?

To assist Josh Trautwein and the Fresh Truck team, visit FreshTruck.org to donate.

And check out all the ways Citizens Bank is supporting local businesses and our communities.

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