Main Street Food Truck Park in Pineville expanding to include farmers market store
PINEVILLE La. (KALB) - Food insecurity exists everywhere, including Central Louisiana. But with the addition of a Food Truck Park in downtown Pineville, more people are able to access fresh produce.
If you don’t think grocery shopping is a challenge, think again. That’s because food deserts exist in Cenla, even as close as downtown Pineville.
“That’s been called that by city hall multiple times, as a food desert all the way from Kingsville all the way to Jackson Street Extension. There are no groceries down here, you have to go either to Kingsville or down MacArthur Drive in Alexandria,” said Tyler Crochet, who runs the Pineville Farm Stand and the Truly Cajun Market Food Truck.
Finding fresh produce is even more of a challenge.
“You would have to go further than Alexandria or Kingsville, maybe down towards Lafayette to actually get a true, local home goods farm store. That’s something that all of Cenla needs,” said Crochet.
However, finding fresh produce in Pineville just got a little easier. That’s because a couple of professionals got together and transformed what used to be an empty lot on Main Street in downtown Pineville into a food truck park.
“Main Street Truck Park started on an empty lot. Then he (Taylor Cottano) told me about the building and the plans for the truck park and it just expanded from there,” said Steve Saia, one of the founders of the farmers markets in Alexandria and Pineville and owner of Saia Wholesale Company.
People can get food from the food trucks daily, enjoy outdoor entertainment and visit the farm stand inside. That’s where you can find Steve Saia.
“I go out and visit all of these little farms and pick up fresh produce and deliver it to this market for sale, generally the day of, which is unheard of, especially for downtown Pineville,” said Saia.
Six days a week, people can visit the farm stand to get fresh produce like okra, cucumber and fresh tomatoes.
“You can actually be eating some of that Okra that we brought in this morning for lunch or supper and it was on the plant this morning,” said Saia.
The farm stand is expanding. In a few weeks, the indoor facility will be transformed into a full-fledged farmers market store.
“We’re trying to provide a place and a storefront where all of these farmers market vendors can have all of their local products that they’re really proud of, where all of their customers can come to get them six days a week, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., right here on Main Street.”
The farmer’s market store will be home to additional produce, meat, herbal remedies and a variety of other products.
“Now we have coolers, now we have freezers, now we have more display for produce and so we’re hoping to have more milk, eggs, butter, local grass-fed beef, locally caught seafood, fresh baked bread from Brick House Bakery.”
This is all a stone’s throw away from a nearby bus stop, so people can literally stroll in and pick out what they want.
“A lot of our customers actually walk in. There’s a bus stop across the street so people can catch the city bus and then get their groceries and then wait for the bus stop,” said Saia.
Across the river, other organizations like the Food Bank of Central Louisiana are trying to provide more produce to residents.
“We want to make sure that everyone has enough to eat and we’re trying to take that a step further with produce to make sure everyone has enough healthy food to eat,” said Jayne Wright-Velez, CEO of the Food Bank of Central Louisiana.
The non-profit is also home to the Good Food Project, which teaches kids how to be self-sustainable and grow their own food.
“We’re seeking to teach children how to grow their own food and to reconnect them to learn about where food comes from, and to know that they can actually grow the food themselves,” said Wright-Velez.
Creating a healthier Cenla and providing a helping hand to those who need it is the ultimate goal.
“We’re working to try to provide assistance where people are so that people don’t always have to drive into Alexandria to get food assistance,” said Wright-Velez.
Right now, the park accepts farmers market nutrition coupons, which are given to seniors. They’re in the process of making EBT and SNAP benefits available to customers as well.
The farm stand, located at 936 Main Street in downtown Pineville, is currently open Monday through Saturday from 11 until 7 p.m.
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