Neighborhood Pop-Up Grocery project is farm to table

By LYNETTE HAALAND, Four Points News 

With the Neighborhood Pop-Up Grocery project, Austin-area restaurants like Cups & Cones in Steiner Ranch have been offering boxes of farm fresh fruits and vegetables for sale. 

This has been part of a COVID Support the Local Farmers’ Initiative. The program began in March and concludes this week, said Hallie Casey, supply chain program manager at the Sustainable Food Center.

Local Steiner resident Keni Renner has been an advocate of the boxes. She said that buying the healthy items not only is not only good for families but supports local business.

Another local resident Jennifer Gary made many dishes with the fresh produce from the Pop-Up Grocery including BLT salad, Philly cheesesteak salad, zoodles made with the yellow summer squash, gazpacho made with the cucumbers as well as homemade pickles. She created a potato, Swiss chard with egg hash too.

“(I made) a beet, carrot, apple slaw. This was a fun discovery – would never have made the recipe but was searching for ideas and it’s a new favorite,” Gary said.

Cups and Cones along with 28 other eateries all over Austin have been selling boxes of six or so organic vegetables and fruits every week. Some weeks they also have had local, farm fresh, organic eggs, milk and yogurt available for sale. 

The Neighborhood Pop-Up Grocery project is a collaboration between Sustainable Food Center, Foodshed Investors and the City of Austin. With funding from the city, participating restaurants receive produce boxes and other grocery items at no cost. This allows restaurants to sell produce boxes and keep the proceeds. 

This project model has allowed local restaurants to generate additional revenue and retain key staff, and supports local farmers by purchasing up food that may have otherwise gone to waste during the pandemic. Keeping Austinites’ food dollars in the local economy is also a part of the initiative.

“This solution makes it easier for Austinites to buy healthy food safely and affordably,” Casey said.