AUSTIN, Texas — Fresh fruits and vegetables are something a lot of us take for granted.
"Food insecurity" is the term used when someone doesn't have reliable access to nutritious and affordable food. Nationwide, it's a growing concern.
To combat food insecurity, a group in Austin is looking to help bridge the gap, one box at a time.
Every Sunday, Chesley Measom and others deliver boxes as a part of Good Apple. Measom told KVUE she's been working with Good Apple since November 2019.
Good Apple is an Austin-based grocery delivery service with the purpose of giving produce that would otherwise go to waste and get it into people's homes.
"Hi, Zoe. I got your weekly Good Apple delivery," Measom said.
"Thank you so much," Zoe Mantarakis said.
"Need help getting it inside or anything?" Measom asked.
"I'll be fine, thanks, I really appreciate it," Mantarakis said.
But how do these boxes get into the hands of people like Mantarakis?
The team from Good Apple packs produce boxes every week at Johnson's Backyard Garden. Each pack contains items that otherwise would have gone in the compost pile for one reason or another.
"We are an Austin-based produce delivery company, on a mission to end food insecurity," said Zach Timmons, a Dell Medical School student and the group's CEO and co-founder.
Timmons and others hand-pack and hand-deliver every box.
"So, I think, I'm the CEO and co-founder of Good Apple, but I'm also a medical student and I think I take care of patients every day," Timmons said. "I have a complete third year to work on community projects, and so when I was forming the projects on that, food insecurity was something I was really passionate about working more on."
Subscribers can choose a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly schedule and the boxes are dropped on their doorstep.
Some of the boxes made go to the paying subscribers to the service. But others have another destination.
"Using the profits from that paid service, as well as partnerships from other food pantries in the community, we're able to provide a free grocery delivery service to families facing food insecurity," Timmons said.
The majority of the people preparing the produce boxes are also Dell Medical students, like Timmons. Good Apple receives help from volunteers in the community, as well.
As for the free boxes, the company sends those to "impact clients."
"That could be family who doesn't have any access to food, but also a single mother with three kids working multiple jobs to make ends meet," Timmons added.
"You just never know anyone's story so it's important that help exists ... because people need it," Mantarakis said.
Mantarakis is a single mom with three kids, living on food stamps.
"But it's just not enough to feed the whole month," Mantarakis said. "Assistance is a really touchy subject. It's hard to be public about the assistance that you're receiving sometimes."
Good Apple allows Mantarakis to give her kids better meals with healthier options.
As for Timmons, the fresh food delivered might be just what the doctor ordered.
"As physicians and other health care providers, we're kinda uniquely positioned to identify these problems in our patients," Timmons said.
The "impact clients" are referred to Good Apple by local food pantries and a pediatricians office who screens their patients for food insecurity.
Good Apple's goal is to keep this business going even after they graduate from Dell Medical School.
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