C-stores in the Albany, Rensselaer and Schenectady, N.Y., area are getting a helping hand in providing fresh produce to customers thanks to Capital District Community Gardens (CDCG), a private non-profit community service organization and the group behind the Veggie Mobile, a produce truck that sells fruits and vegetables in food deserts.
So far the c-store offering has been implemented in six stores with seven more on the horizon. The organization began the initiative back in February with help from a $35,000 grant from the Albany County Strategic Alliance for Health.
“Most of the convenience stores in our community don’t sell fresh produce. These are c-stores in low-income minority neighborhoods that don’t have supermarkets, so the c-stores really become a lynchpin in terms of food delivery for these communities,” said Amy Klein, the executive director of the Capital District Community Gardens. “We’ve taken the potential pain out of dealing with produce for the c-store owners by setting up a customized display with both refrigeration and shelving and stocking it with the produce.”
CDCG enables the store owners to buy the produce at wholesale cost, which would be difficult for the single and two-store chains it currently serves, and offers a retail pricing structure so the offering is cost effective for the consumer, while also ensuring the owner makes a profit. CDCG provides marketing and runs tastings to draw people to the stores, and takes care of any stocking or recalling of produce.
“What we’ve heard from store owners is the produce is moving quickly, people are buying there is an increase in sales going on in other things in the store as people come in for the produce,” Klein said.
For more on fresh and organic food trends see the July issue of CSD.