Class Notes Profiles
Steve Casey, Grad ’96, wants to end some unlikely food droughts.
They occur in neighborhoods that locals call “food deserts,” or areas where it’s hard to find fresh produce because of a lack of accessible supermarkets. Casey lives in a food desert in Chicago and knows the problem is real.
In 2011, Casey and a friend cofounded Fresh Moves, a mobile nonprofit produce market. They refurbished a Chicago Transit Authority bus, loaded it with apples, tomatoes and more, and drove to the city’s West Side to provide residents with nutritious, affordable options.
“We are about the health outcomes. We are trying to teach people how to prepare healthy meals on top of buying the right food,” says Casey, formerly board president and now board member for Fresh Moves.
Customers board the bus to pick produce from rows of plastic baskets, then carry their purchases to the cash register. Some elementary students redeem coupons provided by their schools. Casey credits collaborations like that for Fresh Moves’ popularity.
“Hopefully, later on, the students will ask for more grapes or more salad because it’s not foreign to them anymore,” he says.
Fresh Moves has become an international model for solving the problem of food deserts. Its success, Casey says, can be credited in part to his exposure to Catholic education while a master’s student at Marquette.
“I was introduced to the Catholic idea of service to the community in my M.B.A. program,” he says. “It was a life-changing moment and provided clarity on how to give back.” He chose to address the societal issue of food distribution, he says, “and took it on full bore.” — Jennifer Szink