Cleo’s Bodega Goes Mobile

Cleo's Bodega

Colleen Schena

Near-northwest cafe and grocer Cleo’s Bodega has gathered a robust following since it opened in 2019. This business, a branch of Flanner House Community Center, has established itself as a hub for food, affordable groceries, and community fellowship, and its spicy grilled cheese sandwiches and creative smoothies add a splash of color to any meal.

Last month, the business debuted two mobile bodegas. These trucks, decked out in blue and green, will be cruising the streets of Indianapolis to offer locally grown produce and groceries from the bodega to underserved Indy residents. The produce comes from Flanner Farm and Orchard as well as local partners and Indianapolis Fruits during the winter. An upcoming greenhouse, a Flanner House initiative, will also contribute to the future supply of produce.

Sibeko Jywanza, operating manager of Cleo’s Bodega and the Flanner House Director of Food Justice, anticipates these first few weeks of the fall-to-winter transition will act as a test for the trucks’ abilities to operate in the colder months. While their areas of operation are still awaiting final community votes, the mobile bodegas’ frequency is already decided. The trucks will be out every day, rotating areas in the city every two weeks in order to maximize service. “We bring the food to the people who need it most,” Jywanza says.