The old blue pick-up truck with the custom-made display case attached to its bed slowly makes its way up the street. There are no signs on its doors, but the contents of the truck are well known to the Ramona Gardens community.
Every day, just before noon, a small but loyal group of residents waits patiently for the truck’s arrival at the corner of Lancaster Avenue and Evergreen Street. They line up to buy fresh fruit and vegetables from the truck’s owners. In this community, with the nearest supermarket three miles away and the neighborhood market specializing in household items, fresh produce is scarce.
Depending on the season, Sánchez’s fruit truck is filled with bananas, grapes, tomatoes, strawberries, onions and a variety of peppers. He also sells bottled water, soda and fruit juices, as well as popular snack items the local kids buy after school. He erects a canopy to provide shade, and provides chairs for customers to sit on.
José Trinidad Sánchez, 77, began selling fruit in Ramona Gardens in 1989, the year he arrived to the United States from Jalisco, México. Since then, he and his son, Ismael Herrera, now 39, have become an integral part of the neighborhood by offering residents fresh produce at affordable prices.
They arrive before noon and stay until 8 or 9 p.m. in summer and until sundown in winter – usually around 5 or 6 p.m.
Nico’s Market, the only food store in Ramona Gardens, has been there more than 40 years, but it doesn’t really compete with the fruit truck business. Nico’s sells mostly meats and dry goods, with just a limited amount of fresh produce. “Sometimes they have stuff we don’t have,” Sánchez says, “so people go over there, and sometimes we have something they don’t have, so they come here.”
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