The Frenchtown neighborhood in Westbrook has another program for residents.
A traveling farmers market known as the Good Food Bus sets up shop in the St. Anthony’s parking lot on Brown Street every Tuesday from 3-5 p.m. through October.
The program, which uses a repurposed school bus to deliver fresh produce, bread, eggs and more, is a collaboration among St. Mary’s Nutrition Center in Lewiston, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation, and Cultivating Community, an initiative working to boost public access to healthy, local foods.
The brightly painted bus was parked outside the church last week and wrapping up its daily route.
According to Stephanie Aquilina, the food access program manager for Cultivating Community, the amount of neighborhood interest in the food bus has grown in just a short time. This week is only the third week of the program.
The Good Food Bus did a one-month pilot program last year, but is now in the middle of its first full season. This year’s program kicked off July 20, and includes stops in Lewiston, Auburn, Gorham and Westbrook. The bus makes a quick stop at the Goodwill Industries in Gorham from 12-12:30 p.m. on Tuesdays. The bus also stops at Bath Iron Works in Bath, but for employees only.
The bus accepts cash, debit/credit cards, EBT cards, WIC (Women Infants Children) payments, and “Harvest Bucks” fruit and vegetable vouchers.
Aquilina said in just a short time in the Brown Street neighborhood, she’s seen how receptive residents are.
“This has been a fantastic community to get to know,” she said.
“I think there’s more people this week,” said Brittney Sampson, an Opportunity Alliance and Community Partnerships for Protecting Children employee, who will be coordinator for the upcoming Community Hub on 13 Reserve St.
A few residents cycled through the line of food with small baskets or bags.
Michael Shaughnessy, the president of the Friends of the Presumpscot, left the line with a few containers of fresh berries.
“There’s a lot of pride around here,” Aquilina said of the neighborhood, mentioning residents walking around sporting “National Night Out” T-shirts.
Last Tuesday, a few hundred people also attended a Brown Street block party organized by National Night Out and the Westbrook Police Department, just outside the department’s Frenchtown community policing office.
Aquilina said she’s hoping the program can expand each year.
“The hope is that any money we generate with this project cycles back into the program. It pays for all the food and hopefully operating costs. But we’re not making money from this,” she said.
In just the first few weeks, Aquilina said they have seen families and children learning about new foods, as well as other community services such as police stopping by.
“It feels like a community effort,” she said.
The Good Food Bus, a traveling market providing fresh produce to neighborhoods is now making a weekly stop on Brown Street in Westbrook, from 3-5 p.m. every Tuesday through October.