Food Justice Truck

  • 2015

  • Social Impact

Designed By:

  • CobaltNiche
  • Asylum Seeker Resource Centre
  • VMS Group

Commissioned By:

Asylum Seeker Resource Centre

Designed In:


The Food Justice Truck (FJT) provides asylum seekers with affordable, fresh produce-$80 worth of food for $20.
12,000+ asylum seekers live in Victoria, most below the poverty line, 70% experiencing food shortages. A healthy diet in Australia costs $130 per week. Many asylum seekers have no work rights, some receive payments equal to 89% of the Newstart allowance (leaving $10-$20 p/week for food), and some have no income at all.
Existing meals and food-bank programs ensure basic food security for 1400 ASRC members. The FJT aims to improve the food security of thousands of asylum seekers by running a mobile wholefood market that sells to the general public at market rates, and to asylum seekers at a 75% discount.

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  • The idea for a mobile market to subsidise food for asylum seekers was developed by the ASRC team. CobaltNiche facilitated a collaborative design thinking workshop, early in the design process, involving a broad range of stakeholders; ASRC members, volunteers, staff, fruit wholesalers, marketing professionals, designers and a zero-waste restaurateur. Tackling challenges and developing ideas collaboratively, the session led to several key insights including; the importance of food providence, education opportunities for both user groups, and produce crates hanging on the side of the vehicle. These insights were then fed into a sketch based concept design stage - turning ideas into feasible vehicle/market concepts.

  • Refined vehicle/market concept designs were handed over to VMS Group, who fabricated the custom truck build - refining mechanical details while faithfully maintaining the design intent generated from the collaborative workshop insights. ASRC staff and CobaltNiche team members have been engaged throughout the vehicle fabrication process to ensure all touch-points of the vehicle have been well resolved - taking into consideration the needs of all stakeholders (staff, shoppers and the community). The completely custom and unique vehicle build provides a platform for engaging shoppers, providing an effective shopping experience and platform for education.

  • The FJT affords a welcoming marketplace located at schools, community events or public places - a convenient shopping solution with broad community reach. Shoppers will be passively educated about; asylum seekers, local food producers, minimising waste, recycling, and foods from asylum seekers' home countries. The FJT will reduce asylum seeker travel costs, operating central to their communities. The FJT will help asylum seekers to better understand western foods, and how to handle, store, prepare and cook them. The FJT will treat asylum seekers with the utmost dignity - a crucial element in supporting and educating the asylum seeker community - identifying asylum seekers with an inoffensive and open question.

  • The FJT two-sided-market model is a world first retail model about people, not profits. FJT shoppers are investing in quality, fresh and locally sourced produce (with low carbon miles) for their family. While, supporting the ASRC to re-invest profits to provide fresh produce to asylum seekers at a price they can afford. The ASRC originally raised $150,000 in crowd-funded capital to purchase and customise the FJT vehicle. Many stakeholders in the project have provided services pro-bono, and the vehicle will be staffed primarily with volunteer staff and a paid manager. Minimal overheads ensure the ASRC can maximise operating profits and subsidise food for the asylum seeker community most effectively.

    The FJT has a strong community focus, bringing together local produce and people to improve the lives of Melbourne asylum seekers, in a win-win solution that creates a significant and positive social impact. The Food Justice Truck is a truly compassionate platform, with a core focus of improving the food security of Melbourne's asylum seekers. In achieving this aim, the FJT seeks to support local producers, reduce the environmental impact of delivering fresh food to homes, and engage with the broader community at a number of levels. The boldly colourful vinyl wrapping of the vehicle will act as a beacon and billboard, helping raise awareness of the FJT as it scoots across Melbourne.

    Minimising waste is a key to the FJT; reusable bags & containers are encouraged, innovative full-length door reduces cooling costs (shade), while the vehicle is clad in reclaimed timber. Produce sold is local and seasonal minimising food miles, the vehicle itself is a Hybrid powered truck - helping to achieve the ASRC's target of offering a completely carbon neutral service. The vehicle's design incorporates an on-board cool room that shoppers can access via glass doors - minimising the energy required to keep produce cool and fresh. The vehicle's internal storage shelves and the fold-down crate racks (on vehicle side) still allow produce to be fork-lifted into the FJT - improving produce handling & safety.