The Lake-to-River Food Cooperative started in 2011 and is focused on providing fresh, local products to residents in Youngstown and Warren who do not live near a grocery store.
Now, the idea is being taken one step further with healthy food kiosks popping up at convenient stores around Youngstown. Two kiosks are already set up: One at Youngstown Nation downtown and one at Tom’s Gas and Grocery on Logan Avenue.
The Just Add Love Dinner kits feature ready-to-make meals costing between $5 and $8. Valley-produced Gia Russa products are used, as are apples from Huffman Fruit Farm in Salem, and other locally grown items will be introduced through the summer.
The stands are part of the Lake-to-River Food Cooperative’s urban convenient store initiative.
“Basically we’re trying to get healthy food more accessible to the residents here,” said Brian Bolzan of the Cooperative.
“For people who don’t have transportation and are far from a grocery store, it’s cool to be able to have a corner store to provide that meal for them,” said Youngstown resident Pamela Jefferson as she browsed the selections at Tom’s Gas and Grocery.
“They’re very simple. They’re one pot meals usually under 30 or 40 minutes to cook and six to eight servings, so they can really stretch their dollars,” Bolzan said.
A grant from the USDA helped put the meals together.
“There’s definitely plenty of really fresh and seasonal recipes that will be able to be sourced here at the corner store,” Bolzan said.
“The local food movement here is something that has the ability to have a big economic impact so I want totally support that,” said Phil Kidd, owner of Youngstown Nation, where the second kiosk is located.
Two more kiosks, another in Youngstown and one in Warren, will set up soon.