11/04/2024

Care Health

Prioritize Healthy life

Local startup tackles food insecurity across metro Detroit

Local startup tackles food insecurity across metro Detroit

DETROIT (WXYZ) — A local startup is on a mission to provide healthy foods at affordable prices throughout metro Detroit while focusing on sustainability.

Veggie Express is helping folks, including Deanna Hampton, get fresh produce from avocados to potatoes, nuts, and more.

“They came and helped the people that don’t have that much income. To buy vegetables because you know the prices are going high,” said Hampton.

A concept launched by a local startup called Pluck can meet the needs of around 100 people with a fully stocked electric rickshaw.

“People who can’t get around, it’s for them to here and shop,” said Hampton.

“A third of Detroiters don’t have their own car, so that’s an access problem. And even though there are farmers all around us, and the food is growing, it’s just hard to get it,” said Chening Duker, CEO of Pluck.

Another way Duker is tackling sustainability is by using an electric vehicle.

“This vehicle costs almost nothing to run. Making it efficient to deliver smaller quantities is actually pretty impactful. So, if we had a huge vehicle. We’d either have two situations, one would have to go to only a very large community or we would have a vehicle, mostly empty,” said Duker.

Currently, fresh produce is sourced from more than 40 local farms. Folks can even request certain items. Chening says he is also toying with the idea of autonomous vehicles.

“We don’t want this to rely on philanthropy. If you run a community or you’re part of an organization, you pay a pretty minimal fee that’s for us coming out and selling,” said Duker.

Meanwhile, there are also plans for the winter.

“If we are outside, we can go in sort of a food truck situation. But since we are going to communities, we can have a trailer situation where we can set up inside the lobby or a community center,” said Duker.

Duker sees Pluck’s approach as the answer to future food scarcity.

“For small farms that want to sell directly to the communities, it’s much harder to do because they don’t have economies of scale. This brings the cost of participating in the market by a significant amount. If you think of grocery stores and the food, they throw away because it isn’t sold is around 30%, and we’re like three times better than that,” said Duker.

Duker is planning to make this a year-round program where folks can get food and produce all season. So, to find the next location within your neighborhood, visit Pluck.eco