YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – In this week’s “In-Depth With” segment, WKBN’s Community Affairs Director Dee Crawford sat down with Rose Carter, the CEO of A.C.T.I.O.N.

The two discussed the definition of a “food desert” and the designation that took place in 2016 for Youngstown.

“One of the things that we realized in 2016 and then in 2017, the mayor declared that we were in a food desert. A food desert is where there are not adequate supplies of fresh vegetables and fruits, healthy foods in order to feed our people. That’s where we have so many medical issues like diabetes, high blood pressure, all of those things,” Carter said.

“In our area, there were no grocery stores. If you remember way back — probably 20 years ago — A.C.T.I.O.N. got a grocery store, and we had other grocery stores — full-service grocery stores, and then they went away and we became a food desert,” she added.

One of the issues is also a lack of transportation, Carter said.

One of the ways that A.C.T.I.O.N. is working to address these issues is with a food truck. It operates from June 1 through June 30.

“Through the three nations throughout the city, we have a little over 32 stops a month. We feed probably about 500 to 600 people a month. We’re in all over the area, over Mahoning Valley, because we go as far as Sebring. We’re going to New Middletown. We’re going all over. Wherever there is a food desert, that’s where we go,” Carter said.

The food truck utilizes the SNAP program, along with accepting cash, credit cards and checks.

“Anybody can shop on the truck… One good thing, anyone can get a $25 voucher from Mercy Health through us in order to shop on the truck. You can get oxtails, shrimp, fish, chicken, vegetables, watermelon, broccoli, squash, just all types of food, frozen foods,” Carter said.

Carter admits that the food truck is only a Band-Aid, saying that they need a full-service brick-and-mortar grocery store, but A.C.T.I.O.N. is working on it. The organization is also working on expanding the reach of the food truck to Trumbull County.

A.C.T.I.O.N. works with the non-profit organization Flying High to get food for the food truck. Flying High has two farms in the community that provide vegetables. Jeff Magada is the executive director.

“Jeff Magada and I… did a lot of things together and I was out to his farm and I said, Jeff, let’s do some pop-up markets. So for three years, we did the pop-up markets and then I was out at the farm again and I said, Jeff, you remember how you used to have the chicken man and the watermelon man and all of that? I said, let’s put a grocery store on wheels, and it began to evolve into something that is so successful now. Actually, Jeff Magada at Flying High, he does the operations and Rose Carter gets the funds and we also do the scheduling and things like that,” Carter said.

Magada’s farm is run by volunteers and grows vegetables like tomatoes, beets and onions.

“Everybody that works on our truck comes through Flying High. That’s what A.C.T.I.O.N is all about, is working with those that have had some issues and encouraging them and working with them to make their life better… ‘community mobilization,'” Carter said.

The program is all about feeding the hungry.

“Jeff [also] buys the food from local farmers and meat people. We were able to get a little over $250,000 from commissioners, actually, the city of Youngstown and the mayor, they bought the truck for us. In five months, we raised a little over $500,000,” Carter said.

The money helps them purchase more food for the truck.

The Mahoning Valley Mobile Market is available at the following locations on these days:

Thursday, June 1

  • Struthers Manor, 585 Poland Ave., Struthers, OH
    10-11:30 a.m.
  • Kirwan Homes, 101 Jackson St., Campbell, OH
    11:45 a.m. – 12:45 p.m.
  • Sycamore Place, 31 Tremble Ave., Campbell, OH
    1-2 p.m.

Friday, June 2

  • Grovewood Manor, 3531 Hillman, Youngstown, OH
    10 a.m. – noon
  • African Fest in Warren, OH
    1-2:30 p.m.

Wednesday, June 7

  • MYCAP, 1325 5th Ave., Youngstown, OH
    10 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
  • Arlington Gardens, 767 Park Ave., Youngstown, OH
    12:30 – 2 p.m.

Thursday, June 8

  • Heritage Apts., Granada Avenue, Youngstown, OH
    10-11:15 a.m.
  • Glenellen House, 145 N. Glenellen, Youngstown, OH
    11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
  • Grace Evangelical, Mahoning Avenue, Youngstown, OH
    1-2 p.m.

Friday, June 9

  • Calvary Towers and Carterhouse, 1840 Market St., Youngstown, OH
    10 a.m. – noon
  • Amedia Plaza
    12:30-2 p.m.

Wednesday, June 14

  • International Towers, 23 Market St., Youngstown, OH
    10 a.m. – noon

Thursday, June 15

  • ESA Park Apartments, 110 Kendis Cr., Youngstown, OH
    10-11:15 a.m.
  • Merici House, 3314 South Ave., Youngstown, OH
    11:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Friday, June 16

  • YWCA, 25 W. Rayen Ave., Youngstown, OH
    10-11 a.m.
  • Beaver Township, 225 Warren Ave., Poland, OH
    noon – 2 p.m.

Wednesday, June 21

  • Freedom Village, 1356 N. Osborn, Youngstown, OH
    10-11 a.m.
  • Austintown Senior Center, 112 Westchester, Austintown, OH
    11:15 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
  • Windsor House, 3245 Vestal Rd., Youngstown, OH
    12:45-2 p.m.

Thursday, June 22

  • Eugenia Atkinson Rec, 810 Otis St., Youngstown, OH
    4-6 p.m.

Friday, June 23

  • Crandall Park Apt, 1707 5th Ave., Youngstown, OH
    10:30-11:30 a.m.
  • Norton Manor, 1400 Springdale, Youngstown, OH
    noon – 2 p.m.

Saturday, June 24

  • Lowellville, 810 W. Wood St., Lowellville, OH
    10-11:30 a.m.
  • VASU, 137 Roosevelt Dr., Campbell, OH
    12-2 p.m.

Wednesday, June 28

  • Rockford Village, 1420 Dogwood Ln, Youngstown, OH
    10:30-11:30 a.m.
  • Plaza View, 1446 McGuffey Rd., Youngstown, OH
    11:45 a.m. – 12:45 p.m.
  • Villages at Arlington, 516 Griffin St., Youngstown, OH
    1-2 p.m.

Thursday, June 29

  • Copeland Retirement, 800 S. 15th St., Sebring, OH
    10:30 a.m. – noon
  • Sebring Library, 195 W. Ohio Ave., Sebring, OH
    12:15-2 p.m.

Friday, June 30

  • Broadway Park, 353 Broadway, Youngstown, OH
    10-11:30 a.m.
  • Gutknecht Towers, 110 E. Wood St., Youngstown, OH
    noon – 2 p.m.

*All locations and times are subject to change.

For updates, check ACTION of Mahoning Valley’s Facebook page, or call 234-232-7292.