The Veggie Van is on a roll -- again.
Local Matters' little green machine has hit the streets again, providing fresh produce, grains, beans, diced tomatoes and meal kits, among other items.
The nonprofit organization has set up weekly stops at which the van will be the same day of each week and at the same time
* 2 to 5 p.m. Thursdays at PrimaryOne Health East Main, 1180 E. Main St.
* 2 to 5 p.m. Fridays at Equitas Health King-Lincoln Pharmacy, 736 E. Long St.
* 2 to 5 p.m. Saturdays at Local Matters, 633 Parsons Ave.
* 1 to 4 p.m. Sundays at Bible-Way Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ, 453 S. Wheatland Ave.
Other stops will be added, said Michelle Moskowitz Brown, executive director of Local Matters.
Local Matters officials request customers order items online, but purchases also can be made at the location the day of the Veggie Van's visit. Market locations are drive-thru for online orders and park-and-pay, said Tori Strickland, director of programs at Local Matters.
Local Matters accepts online orders at local-matters.org/veggie-van-order-online. Customers can choose their pickup location when they set up their accounts.
Strickland said the market is open to anyone. Payment can be made by cash, credit card and Ohio food-assistance programs, such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP, and Electronic Benefits Transfer.
Home deliveries are not part of the Veggie Van's current mission, Strickland said.
Veggie Van is taking measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by following strict social-distancing guidelines and safety standards outlined by local government, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Ohio Farmers Market Network, she said.
"The drive-thru and park-and-pay are specifically designed to promote safety for individuals shopping and picking up produce," Strickland said. "All staff will be required to wear face masks and gloves and surfaces will be sanitized regularly.
"Local Matters commits to bringing healthy team members to work the markets every day and encourages everyone to do the same," she said. "We will host more information as we roll out the markets, but expect to see signage, ground markings and barriers for walk-up customers and staff safely guiding individuals navigating the market in their cars."
Strickland said Local Matters works with wholesalers and grows its own food to help promote healthy eating and provide inexpensive meals.
The Veggie Van operates year-round, Brown said. Every site has an indoor option for the winter months, she said.
It has other missions, too, such as delivering food to churches and underserved communities in need of inexpensive meals, she said.
Veggie Van was started more than 10 years ago but had been discontinued, in part, because "it was before its time as a model," and because there wasn't enough support for it, Brown said.
"It is designed to help people get fresh food and staple goods in their neighborhood, as well as education and support in making convenient and affordable meals," she said.
She said the van is essentially a "pop-up market" that is reliably present one day a week or year-round at designated schools, health-care centers and churches.
"We believe everyone should have access to good food, and this model can be successful in part because it is integrated into a place where people already gather, providing convenience and building on existing education work that we are doing," Brown said.