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Rural Health Information Hub

The Hunger Coalition's Bloom Truck and Bloom Markets

Summary 
  • Need: To improve access to healthy, affordable food for low-income families and children in Blaine County, Idaho in a stigma-free way.
  • Intervention: A truck that delivers free, healthy meals to kids in local neighborhoods and a farm stand selling fresh produce at heavily discounted rates.
  • Results: The Bloom Truck delivers meals to between 250 and 400 children each summer, with 1,599 meals served in June of 2023.

Description

A Community Food Assessment conducted in Blaine County, Idaho, in 2015 found that 35% of residents were food-insecure or one crisis away from it, and that stigma was preventing some people who needed food assistance from utilizing local food pantry services. To ensure that food-insecure individuals and families were able to access healthy, affordable food in a stigma-free way, The Hunger Coalition – a local nonprofit operating a food pantry in Blaine County – created community gardens to grow fresh fruits and vegetables. In 2016 The Hunger Coalition also purchased a truck, which they called the Bloom Truck, to bring healthy, affordable food to families in their own neighborhoods.

Throughout the summer months, the Bloom Truck delivers free, healthy sack lunches for children in communities across Blaine County via its Bookmobile initiative, which turns the Bloom Truck into a combination food truck and mobile library. The Bookmobile initiative was established in partnership with a local library, The Community Library. Lunches include fresh vegetables grown in The Hunger Coalition's community gardens, with Bloom Truck staff coordinating with food production workers to figure out what kinds of vegetables are most popular with the children served by the program. While lunches are free for children, parents and other adults can also buy a lunch for a dollar.

Bloom Truck Kids

To make fresh produce available to individuals and families unable to afford grocery store prices, The Hunger Coalition's Bloom Markets program operates pop-up farm stands in rotating neighborhoods during the summer and fall. These mobile markets, which are run by The Hunger Coalition's high school interns, sell produce grown in the community gardens and scratch-made meals at heavily discounted prices.

Services offered

The Bloom Truck / Bookmobile provides services Monday-Thursday from early June through late August, stopping in various towns and neighborhoods across the county throughout the week. The Bloom Truck currently has five stops on its weekly schedule.

Bloom Truck Lunch

In 2023, the Bloom Market was scheduled to take place every Wednesday in the late afternoon and early evening, at two locations – a park and an apartment complex – from mid-June through late August. The markets accept cash, check, card, and Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) as payment, which lets customers purchase food using Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.

Results

The Bloom Truck and Bookmobile summer lunch program serves between 250 and 400 kids over the course of a summer. In June of 2023, the truck served 300 people – 250 children and 50 adults – and distributed a total of 1,599 meals.

The Hunger Coalition's community gardens produced more than 7,000 pounds of produce in 2022, with a portion going to the summer lunch program and Bloom Markets and the rest used for other Hunger Coalition programming.

Challenges

Hunger Coalition staff say they would like to expand the Bloom Truck program into additional neighborhoods that could benefit from it, but staffing and funding limitations require the program to be strategic about its stops. Upkeep and maintenance of the truck is also a consideration.

Bloom Truck Bookmobile

Replication

The Hunger Coalition encourages any organization or community interested in creating similar programs to reach out for assistance or collaboration. Staff say that when launching a similar program it's important to consider the unique wants and needs of your community and the neighborhoods you will be serving, and to talk to people in those neighborhoods about what kinds of food offerings, scheduling, etc. they would prefer.

Contact Information

Kristin McMahon, Communications Manager
The Hunger Coalition
208.788.0121
kmcmahon@thehungercoalition.org

Topics
Children and youth
Families
Food security and nutrition

States served
Idaho

Date added
July 10, 2023

Suggested citation: Rural Health Information Hub, 2023. The Hunger Coalition's Bloom Truck and Bloom Markets [online]. Rural Health Information Hub. Available at: https://www.ruralhealthinfo.org/project-examples/1116 [Accessed 13 April 2024]


Please contact the models and innovations contact directly for the most complete and current information about this program. Summaries of models and innovations are provided by RHIhub for your convenience. The programs described are not endorsed by RHIhub or by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy. Each rural community should consider whether a particular project or approach is a good match for their community’s needs and capacity. While it is sometimes possible to adapt program components to match your resources, keep in mind that changes to the program design may impact results.