LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Travis Brown has filled too-many-to-count bags of those green warm-seasoned vegetables — okra. This crop, also known as ladies’ fingers, is good for filling people’s stomachs. 

“I love helping people, something that’s going to help the city I love so much,” Brown said.

What You Need To Know

  • New Roots helps make fresh food more accessible for people in food deserts

  • There are currently eight Fresh Stop Markets which pop up at each location every two weeks in Louisville

  • The program accepts SNAP, making it easier for low-income residents to have fresh food

The Louisville native’s altruistic quality aligns closely with New Roots, a nonprofit working to make fresh, locally sourced food, accessible for all.

“Food is a basic human right that everyone should have access to it and have the ability to eat it. And unfortunately, in our city, where we’re focused — the west end — there has been a lot of closures of groceries, farmers’ markets and things like that.” 

The Greater Louisville Project reports that over 68% of Louisville’s low-income residents live over a mile away from a grocery store. This is known as a food desert. 

“The fresh produce down here and the ability to get it is very scarce and so that’s what our nonprofit is trying to do is get the produce in here, into town, in part of the city where it’s not able to get to normally,” Brown said. 

To help increase accessibility, New Roots offers “Fresh Stop Markets” in food-insecure neighborhoods. 

Customers are known as shareholders and receive a bag of a variety of locally grown, seasonal produce every two weeks. They pay on an income-based scale and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP, is accepted.

Klara Holst has been working with New Roots through Vista Americorps, and feels the program is very meaningful.

“It doesn’t really feel like a job, because it’s more like helping people all the time. I mean you’re providing a service to people that they need, and it feels good to give them that essential food and vitamins and nutrients,” Holst says.  

Brown says they are serving around 700 to 800 shares every two weeks. 

“It’s a good system. [People] love it. We have a lot of people who have been here since we started in 2009 and we have people who have been with us for many long years,” Brown shared. 

New Roots is still accepting shareholders but prefers those who are facing limited resources, such as people on food stamps and those with disabilities.