Queen of Greens Mobile Greengrocers produce

The ‘Queen of Greens’ – a greengrocers on wheels – is taking to the roads of Liverpool

In a pioneering initiative, a healthy bus dubbed the ‘Queen of Greens’ will be taking to the city’s streets to increase access to healthy food and to help tackle health inequalities.

The bus, which has been launched by Feeding Liverpool in partnership with Liverpool City Council and the local NHS will visit 29 stops each week – including schools, hospitals and community centres. The healthy bus will give residents more opportunities to shop for nutritious food closer to their home, or workplace.

The bus route will be focused on areas that are classed as ‘food deserts’ – places where residents currently have to travel a kilometre or more to reach a supermarket, 800 metres to a convenience store, or 500 metres to a fresh market stall which sells ‘green’ produce.

Queen of Greens route and timetable

The project is a unique partnership between charities Feeding Liverpool and Feedback Global’s project Alchemic Kitchen, with funding from Feeding Britain.

The bus runs Monday to Friday and includes stops in Anfield, Everton, Walton, Fazakerley, Kensington, Edge Hill, Belle Vale, Dingle, Toxteth, Kensington, Wavertree, West Derby, Picton, Aigburth, Speke, Garston, Aintree, and Knotty Ash.

Professor Matthew Ashton, Director of Public Health for Liverpool City Council and lead DPH for the north west’s Food Active healthy weight programme, said: “The Queen of Greens project is a fantastically creative and collaborative approach to helping tackle one of the most pressing challenges facing our communities today, and Liverpool City Council is delighted to be supporting it, as part of the Liverpool Good Food Plan, working to create a city where everybody can eat good food.”

“Providing a more accessible supply of fresh groceries closer to people’s homes is a vital step on the way to reducing health inequalities and improving nutrition and wellbeing for local children and adults.

Dr Naomi Maynard, Programme Director for Liverpool’s Good Food Plan and Feeding Liverpool said: “One in three adults in Liverpool is food insecure, meaning food is a source of worry, frustration and stress; this situation is only set to worsen as food and fuel prices escalate.

One of the contributing factors to poor nutrition and unhealthy diets is that access to good food is limited in some parts of the city, with some neighbourhoods classed as ‘food deserts’ much worse affected than others.

It means people end up relying on food that is more readily available close to their home or work, and often that is not the best option for both their finances, or their long-term health, or the health of their growing children.”

The Queen of Greens is operated day-to-day by greengrocer Paul Flannery from Dingle who has run an independent local business for the last ten years, giving him an insight into growing needs serving local communities, particularly through the pandemic.

Paul Flannery said: “I’ve been a greengrocer all my life and I’ve got to know communities all over the city and I know what different people in different communities like to eat and what they need.

“This is a brilliant opportunity for us to reach more people with fresh fruit and veg. People don’t want to have to travel far to do their shopping and often they can’t because of work, or childcare, or they can’t afford it.

“This means we can meet more people close to where they live and work. The bus has got a real sense of community about it, we really found that in the pandemic, people loved coming out and having a chat, it gives them a lift in the day, and that’s good for their mental health too.”

Schoolgirl Leema Alzu’bi aged ten, from Toxteth, who won a competition to have her artwork turned into the Queen of Greens bus logo, entered the competition whilst participating in a Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme at the Al Ghazali community centre.

Leema said: “The bus will be taking fruit and vegetables to people who can’t get them close to their home. I feel very happy and very proud that my drawing will go to help something good.”

Liverpool schoolgirl Leema and her winning Queen of Greens design

Everyone is encouraged to shop on the new Queen of Greens bus regardless of income, to help champion better local food provision and support the venture as a viable business long term, with the potential to expand in future.

Customers can pay for shopping with Alexandra Rose vouchers, and Healthy Start vouchers for pregnant women and young families are accepted at all stops, as well as cash or cards.

Liverpool Waterfront