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The '317 Fruit Man' provides fresh produce for people living in Indy food deserts

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Posted at 8:07 AM, Sep 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-10 19:55:35-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Having fresh and healthy food options is important for every community. There are food deserts in communities across the Circle City places where it's nearly impossible to find fresh quality fruit.

James Johnson III, 15, noticed the problem and saw a chance to help.

"That's the whole goal to get good quality fruit to food deserts and to places without grocery stores,” Johnson III said. "It's really kind of a simple idea. You just wouldn't think of doing it."

Johnson III, a sophomore at Purdue Polytechnic High School who goes by "317 Fruit Man" on social media, said he noticed his friends and even some of his relatives couldn't get their hands on the kinds of fruit he was cutting daily. So, in June, he made it his mission to provide the produce for a small fee.

"Usually, we have watermelon, pineapples, strawberries," he said. "Now we are adding blueberries."

Now he adds flavor and can brighten communities, but this isn't even where the fruit stand stops.

"My goal is to partner with schools and sports teams to bring in quality produce," Johnson III said.

Even beyond that, being the 317 Fruit Man is part of a bigger plan.

"Really, I want to own my own business and be an entrepreneur. Just work for myself," he said.

Though he is the original 317 Fruit Man, he is now bringing other young people on board who share his passion for community and entrepreneurial spirit.