Building SAMM: An International Journey!

They say that Rome wasn’t built in a day. That’s probably true- and neither was SAMM! The finished vehicle is the end result of a long process of design work and collaboration, within our organization and region, but also spanning national boundaries to Toronto, Canada!

An early version of the design work, photo-shopped onto what would become known as SAMM

An early version of the design work, photo-shopped onto what would become known as SAMM

In the early stages of development of the SAMM project, Seacoast Eat Local sought out the best advice and the best existing models to base our work on. There were dead-end paths and wrong turns along the way, to be sure, but we believe we have built SAMM based on the best, experienced-based knowledge out there.

Our work began with joining the Mobile Market Community of Practice (MMCoP), which is a learning group of professionals across New England that are funded and lead, as we are, by the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation’s Healthy Food Fund. Several programs provided a wealth of information and advice and we benefited from them all- specifically the Good Food Bus of Lewiston, Maine, The REC Mobile Market program in Worcester, MA, and finally, the Trustees of Reservations in Massachusetts.

As our questions and goals became more defined, they led us (sometimes) farther afield. Seacoast Eat Local consulted programs in California, Georgia, Washington, D.C. and Tennessee. Our quest to identify the best possible vehicle design led us to Toronto Food Share in Toronto, Canada. A series of events prompted us to even use the same retrofitting company as Toronto Food Share, a Toronto-based company called Crew Chiefs Conversions.

 

Jill and Celeste with Afua, the coordinator for Food Share's mobile market program

Jill and Celeste with Afua, the coordinator for Food Share’s mobile market program

A May 17 trip to Toronto to oversee the progress of the retrofits allowed us to make a special stop at Food Share Toronto to learn more about their work and to thank them for their guidance and kindness. Although they are a much different program than we are, we learned a lot from them and really enjoyed getting to see some of their food distribution work in  action!

 

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Celeste “driving” the SAMM Van for the very first time!

In addition to getting to connect with some of our long-distance friends, we got to see first hand the work that was being done to retrofit our vehicle. From sketches to real life, SAMM was beginning to take shape! During our visit we had the opportunity to walk through the vehicle with the retrofitting team to make sure that everything was to our specifications. Once we left, they were kind enough to send, sometimes daily, ongoing photo updates of their progress.


At long last, we received word at the end of June that the retrofits and decal work had been completed and that SAMM was on its way! After a lot of coordinating, customs work and anxious waiting, SAMM arrived in New Hampshire on July 8, 2016.

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SAMM settling in at home after a long journey!

To follow SAMM and get updates on our stops and other information, follow us on instagram @SAMMVAN or visit our webpage www.seacoasteatlocal.org/samm. If you are interested in supporting our program through volunteering, please contact Celeste Gingras, SAMM Coordinator, at celeste@seacoasteatlocal.org. Financial contributions are also greatly appreciated and help to further our important mission. Donations made be made securely online at this link. If you are interested in having a stop in your area or in contracting with SAMM on behalf of your business, please contact Jillian Hall, Seacoast Eat Local Director of Programs, at jill@seacoasteatlocal.org

SAMM is made possible by a grant from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation’s Thomas W. Haas Fund and the on-going support of the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation’s Healthy Food Fund.

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