From the farm to your hands: Grocers on Wheels brings fresh produce to your doorstep

Demetrius Hunter continues fathers legacy

Fresh produce grown locally, affordable prices, a smiling vendor, and service at your fingertips. Grocers on Wheels, a truck filled with vegetables and fruit, brings groceries to senior citizens on a daily basis ensuring their access to healthy foods.”We go into the food deserts and sell fresh produce at affordable prices. The biggest joy I have in doing this is working with seniors because some are low income and some are not able to get out and get fresh produce,” said Demetrius Hunter.Hunter cofounded Grocers on Wheels, a nonprofit organization, in 2013 in southeast Raleigh as a way to provide fresh and affordable produce to seniors living in his community. He visits senior centers in Raleigh and Durham as well as delivers goods to the doorsteps of customers.Hunter continues the legacy of his father, Zelb Hunter. Zelb began the project with his father bringing groceries to the community through a loaded cart constructed out of a cutoff car trunk into a wagon drawn by a mule many decades ago.”My dad started during the Great Depression. He came to the city of Raleigh to make sure the seniors had fresh produce from his hometown and family farm in Johnston County,” said Hunter. “They came on a mule and cart with their produce loaded to southeast Raleigh.”When Zelb was drafted during World War II, he and his father stopped selling produce so he could serve his country. When he finally returned from war, he sold produce off and on until his retirement. Demetrius joined his father in business in the late 1990s, and the two have been providing produce together to senior citizens for the following 15 years.Hunter continues the legacy built by his father through the founding of Grocers on Wheels and continues to build strong relationships with his customers.”I come every Friday (to the Durham Senior Life Center) that it’s not snowing. I come basically to get my fresh vegetables from him. I was raised on a farm, and this is basically like home,” said Yvonne Vann, 70, of Durham. “He normally has everything I need. He’s a nice person and offers us a great price.”Shoppers can find Hunter and fresh produce at senior centers in Durham, through home delivery in southeast Raleigh, or by visiting the website ( Ordering is easy online. Simply select the products you want, local farms will pull them together, and then you decide if pick up or home delivery is the method for you.Shoppers can order pre-designed boxes ranging from 10 to 40 pounds at a cost of $17 to $43.”We appreciate any support or donations so we can remain a nonprofit serving the community,” said Hunter. “We provide food year-round — snow, rain, heat, drought — whatever we need to do to make sure the seniors are healthy.”Grocers on Wheels delivers and provides okra, canary melons, watermelon, grapefruit, collards, sweet potatoes, blueberries, cabbage, broccoli florets, and much more.”I love getting to know my customers. They remind me of my dad and how he had relationships with his customers,” said Hunter.”It’s kind of like an assignment for your community to make sure people eat healthy. It’s a legacy. My dad did it, and he left that in me. He worked and showed me how to treat people. He retired at 88, but I learned manners and respecting elders from him,” he continued.”Sometimes you see an 88-year-old woman and no one comes to see her, but when you come it is a lot of joy for that exchange. Or there could be that elderly person laying on the floor because no one has come to check on them, and if I come, I might see that happen and I can help them. I really feel good about what I do. I enjoy and really appreciate my dad teaching me. There is not a lot of money in it, but it is gratifying and I can see the community appreciate what I’m doing,” said Hunter.It’s more than just the delivering of groceries. Hunter, with boxes of fresh greens and fruit, delivers healthy goods and a healthy dose of friendship for the seniors in his community.