Austin food nonprofit Sustainable Food Center (SFC) is partnering with local restaurants to create low-cost grocery markets and farm boxes, as a way of offering another food option for low-income neighborhoods during the novel coronavirus pandemic in the city. The Neighborhood Pop-Up Grocery (NPG) project is currently available at several participating restaurants and food trucks through Wednesday, September 30.
There are two formats for NPG. One turns temporarily closed restaurant dining rooms into markets with produce, meats, and dry goods (much like what other local restaurants have been doing on their own). For the second, restaurants are selling prepackaged boxes of produce through their respective web store.
Through NPG, SFC is purchasing all foods and items from local farms and vendors (which have been experiencing diminishing sales). Those goods are donated to the restaurants, which then sell everything to customers at lower prices. “Our partners set the prices with the understanding that the focus of this project is low-cost food options,” said Jenifer DeAtley, the farm viability director of SFC. The restaurants keep all of the sales revenue, which adds a new profit stream during a time when many dining rooms still remain closed.
SFC and Texas company Foodshed Investors put together NPG, using some of the emergency assistance funding approved by the Austin City Council to help “address food insecurity” in the city, according to DeAtley.
NPG participants so far include Nixta Taqueria, Eden East, Hillside Farmacy, Big Easy Bar and Grill, Hecho en Mexico, Killa Wasi, Sa-Ten, The Cavalier, and Mr. Catfish. On the vendor end, SFC is working with Common Market Texas, Farmshare Austin, Urban Roots, and others.
With NPG’s help, Eden East and Hillside Farmacy are selling produce straight from its very farm, bread from Easy Tiger, as well as other goods. Both locations are also offering half-off discounts for SNAP shoppers.
Additional restaurants are more than welcomed to participate as well by contacting DeAtley. Originally, the program was scheduled to end in mid-June, but has been extended into the fall.
Update, July 7, 2:41 p.m.: This article, originally published on Thursday, May 28, has been updated to reflect NPG’s new end date.
- Neighborhood Pop-Up Grocery Project [Sustainable Food Center]