Columbia residents who want to buy local fruits and vegetables, but have trouble getting to the farmers market will be able to get there more easily by bus starting next month, thanks to a new USDA grant.
The grant of nearly $42 thousand awarded to the Columbia Farmers Market aims to bring in customers from areas without major grocery stores or fresh produce. The City of Columbia will provide two buses on Saturday mornings with routes going through the campus and downtown areas to the farmers market.
Drew Brooks, the city's transportation supervisor, said he sees a weakness in the transportation system for people who need to buy food.
"The working person barely has time to just get on the bus and get home, much less go grocery shopping. So I think it is a reality that shopping and things like that are impacted when the bus system isn't as robust as it needs to be."
Helping people get access to fresh, locally-grown food is a goal of Columbia Farmers Market Director Caroline Todd.
"In Columbia, the buses didn't come to the market until after 11 o’clock and we close at noon. That's why we wrote into our grant to get the city bus through the food desert, out to the market early in the morning when it first opened."
The bus routes begin at 7:45 a.m. on April 7th and are open to the public.