San Francisco’s Tenderloin is considered a food desert – defined as “an urban area in which it is difficult to buy affordable or good-quality fresh food”. To bring more fresh produce to the Tenderloin, EatSF had teamed up with a local store, Radman’s Produce Market. Radman’s owner, Fadhl, who founded the store in 1998, has noticed a shift in his customer base since the implementation of EatSF: “We got customers that we have never seen before even though they have lived in the neighborhood for longer than our time here,” says Fadhl, remarking that “I think ninety percent of the people who used [EatSF vouchers] in here, they have never shopped for fruits or vegetables. Ninety percent! So when they find an opportunity, they use it.”
Another positive effect of the voucher program is that the influx of voucher users has increased Radman’s selection of fruits and vegetables. As Fadhl says, “EatSF made us commit. In order to serve the participants, we had to stock more varieties. People want more varieties, and we did do that, and it was very good.” A greater variety of produce helps customers choose produce that better fits their cultures and preferences – increasing overall consumption of fruits and vegetables. This benefits all members of the community – even those who do not receive vouchers now have access to a store with a broader, fresher selection of produce.
Spurred by EatSF vouchers, Radman’s neighbors are now becoming happy customers. Fadhl reports that “their feedback was that…we are very happy that you are here. You know, they didn’t know we existed. And you would be surprised. You know, they lived one block away. So, they are happy to see a place where they can get some fruits and vegetables. And of course they are happy that they can get them for free.”
Here at EatSF, we’re extremely thankful to stores like Radman’s, which are encouraging healthy eating by supplying fresh fruits and vegetables in neighborhoods where these foods have historically been difficult to obtain. Together, EatSF and Radman’s are providing produce that is critical to creating a healthier, more vibrant Tenderloin community.