Oakland residents looking to buy groceries might not have to drive or ride a bus to the nearest supermarket anymore.
Millvale-based Farm Truck Foods will operate a farmers market in Carlow University’s Commons building from noon to 1:30 p.m. every Tuesday. The market, which had its grand opening Tuesday, will offer fresh organic produce, bread, meats and other items from local farms.
The farmers market was opened to bring more healthy food options to campus, according to Mary Reidell, director of health services at Carlow University.
“People wanted to have things in their [dorm] rooms that were healthy, like vegetables and fruits,” Reidell said.
Farm Truck Foods serves local “food deserts,” or areas without grocery stores or food markets, and sells food in areas like Larimer, Millvale and Mount Washington, according to Director of Community Outreach and co-founder Landon DePaulo.
This made Oakland an ideal location to open a new market, Reidell said.
“We’re actually kind of a little food desert ourselves, right here in Oakland,” she said. “You’d have to get a bus to go to any grocery store.”
DePaulo opened Farm Truck Foods with Carlow alums Meredith Neel-Jurinko and Michelle Lagree-Pendel last year. For him, food has a special meaning.
“Growing up, I wasn’t afforded the ability to have [food] all the time,” DePaulo said. “I did go hungry and I understand what it’s like to be in a household that doesn’t always have food on the table and having siblings and knowing there’s only, like, one piece of bread left in the bag, you know. I remember that feeling.”
He said his job allows him to educate people on what they might not know about food.
“Some people don’t realize that bananas or oranges don’t come from Pittsburgh, so it’s kind of filling them in behind where food’s coming from, what’s in it, how it’s grown and all that,” DePaulo said.
DePaulo also said that working with “underserved communities” gives him “drive and passion” daily.
“If you want to go to work every day, you want to be doing something that makes a change,” he said. “If I’m going to work and I’m able to help out a bunch of people, that’s just the best thing possible.”
All of Farm Truck Foods’ items come from farms “within 200 miles” of Pittsburgh, in Pennsylvania and Ohio. And none of the farms use GMOs or inhumane livestock practices, according to DePaulo.