TROY, N.Y.Â â€” Capital Roots, the nonprofit organization that has been helping to fight food insecurity in the capital region for 44 years, unveiled its latest Veggie Mobile.
The Veggie Mobile brings fresh produce bought from local farms to areas of the community described as “food deserts” â€” area where it is difficult to make fresh, locally grown food available to everyone that needs it. It has been serving the capital district since 2007, and now it’s gone solar thanks to generous support from U.S. Light Energy.
At an unveiling ceremony at Capital Roots’ headquarters, the new truck â€” which will replace the one that served as the community’s Veggie Mobile for 12 years â€” was presented as the next step in making fresh food access a reality in the region’s urban areas.
The new Veggie Mobile is equipped with solar panels that will power the truck’s refrigerators and sound system. The panels were donated by U.S. Light Energy, a Latham-based company specializing in solar and renewable energy solutions. Capital Roots has entered into a partnership program with U.S. Light Energy, and with CDPHP, an annual sponsor of Capital Roots.
The partnership is a “double whammy” win for the city of Troy, taking it one step further not only in the quest to make healthy food affordable and available to everyone, but also in Troy’s continued efforts to “go green.”
At the unveiling ceremony, Capital Roots CEO Amy Klein thanked U.S. Light Energy, CDPHP, and the many other sponsors partnering with Capital Roots to continue making the organization a success.
“This is how we are enabling people to conveniently purchase locally grown food at a low cost,” she remarked. “When we started out, we were told no one would wait in line for fruits and veggies. They were wrong â€” everyone does want to eat good food.”
It’s not just the Capital Region that wants to eat healthy, either â€” since the Veggie Mobile’s inception, the idea of a portable farmstand has spread across the country.
“Creativity and innovation have been the cornerstone of the Veggie Mobile, which has become a national model for mobile food markets,” Klein said.
The Veggie Mobile has received state funding every year, and is proudly supported by Assembly members John McDonald and Patricia Fahy, who attended the unveiling ceremony.
“It’s not just about health care, it’s about living healthy,” McDonald stated. “That’s the beauty of what the Veggie Mobile is all about. We need to give people a proper platform to live healthy.”
“Good food fuels our brains,” Fahy agreed. “This is ultimately how we address our health care issues.”
John Bennett, CEO of CDPHP, understands how important healthy food is for healthy living.
“In 2010, we saw the vision of Capital Roots and wanted to be a part of it,” Bennett said. “We’ve found that only 20% of a person’s health is the result of health care. That’s why we’re doing more now, so we can affect so many more people on a grander scale. We’re going back to supporting good food, good education, and transportation, and we look forward to continuing to support Capital Roots.”
Sate Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets Richard Ball is also glad to be supporting Capital Roots.Â
“It’s good to be part of a program that thinks a prescription is ‘take two heads of broccoli and call me in the morning,’Â Ball said. “It’s good that we’re supporting local farms. As a farmer myself, I know that it’s all about connecting the dots from those who grow the food, to those who distribute the food, to those who need the food.”Â
Ball is the owner and operator of Schoharie Valley Farms, with 200 acres of fruit and vegetable crops that serve both retail and wholesale consumers.
In addition to state resources and partnership programs with major companies, Capital Roots can also be supported by individuals who want to help. As part of the partnership with U.S. Light Energy, company CEO Mark Richardson is making a special offer to anyone who is interested in being part of a solar community program.
“As of today,” Richardson announced at the unveiling, “anyone who wants to subscribe to a community solar program will also be helping Capital Roots.Â For every person that subscribes to community solar, we will donate $50 to Capital Roots.”
This is another “double whammy” for helping the community.Â People who choose to subscribe to solar will not only be helping Capital Roots bring fresh food to those who need it, they will be helping themselves at the same time.Â Switching to solar power provides support for green, renewable energy sources â€” and often can result in a lower utility bill.
To subscribe to a community solar program, visit www.uslightenergy.com.Â There are no long-term contracts, and no equipment installation is needed.Â Both residential and commercial customers are eligible for the service. Enter the promo code CAPITAL ROOTS to generate the $50 donation to the Veggie Mobile project.
“We need more of this,” said Amy Klein of the public/private partnership between Capital Roots, CDPHP, and U.S. Light Energy. “We need more partnerships like this to do more for our community.”
“It’s great to see this,” Troy mayor Patrick Madden remarked. “It’s great to see a very engaged community stepping up to do the work.”