First Fruits Market – Fresno’s First Free Grocery Store

Photo by Central California Food Bank

Last fall, Fresno’s first free grocery store, First Fruits Market, had its grand opening.

Located at City Center Fresno at 2025 E Dakota Ave and in partnership with Central California Food Bank, the grocery store provides financially struggling families and those suffering from food insecurity a resource to receive free groceries.

Unlike food distribution centers, this market provides individuals with an independent, dignified grocery store shopping experience. People are allowed to choose the items they want rather than receiving a pre-packaged box with food items they are less likely to use in their household, which in the process, reduces food waste.

“I love the fact that it’s a market,” said Rosa Franklin-McGuire, a first-time volunteer. “They just walk in and they grocery shop like you would at a normal grocery store.”

The First Fruits Market does not request any information about income or mandate certain requirements. All are welcome with the privacy of their financial status. Registration is required, but only generalized information is requested. Once registered, shoppers receive a number and wait for it to be called.

Restrictions do apply when it comes to the amount of groceries selected. Shoppers are allowed to select up to 15 items of their choosing that fit into their cultural and dietary preferences. In addition to these items, shoppers have access to an unlimited amount of produce.

In order to serve many within the community, individuals are limited to two shopping experiences a month. 

The market serves 100 families on Fridays and 140 families on Saturdays. These numbers may change depending on how much food is still available and the amount of people who show up. 

In addition to free food, the market will provide educational resources about healthy foods, cooking demos including recipe cards. And for those unaware of CalFresh, resources will be provided in educating individuals about the program and the enrollment process. 

Franklin-McGuire explained the best part of volunteering at Fresh Fruits Market is being about to give back to the community.

“We do have people that are a little bit less fortunate,” Franklin-McGuire said. “But, more than anything, just being able to help the people of Fresno, that’s the best part of this.”

The market is open on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Individuals can sign up to volunteer at the market by completing an application on the Central California Food Bank website.

First Fruits Market is one of many resources that Fresno Mission City Center provides for individuals and families struggling financially. 

Fresno Mission City Center is a growing 2-story complex that holds different organizational programs. Each provides different resources and utilities that are free to the community. 

They will have showering areas that include accessible features such as a detachable shower head, stabilizing pole on the wall, and a seat. 

Currently they are under construction building areas for a salon and barbershop.

They will have their own coffee shop with multiple tables and chairs for individuals to have a comfortable space for personal use, as well as lounging areas are located all over the complex with couches and cushioned chairs as well as additional tabling areas. 

For children, there is an indoor playground that features forest inspired elements. City Center is also in the process of creating an outdoor playground that will be attached to an inviting outdoor courtyard.

They also have a store called The Landing that provides toiletries, clothes, and household items for teenagers in out-of-home care.

Ultimately, the Fresno Mission City Center is a campus complex that welcomes everyone to escape to a safe, comfortable environment. Anyone can join to simply hangout or utilize their free resources.

Alexis Zuniga (she/her/hers)

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