About Us

The Grocers On Wheels model was co-founded by Demetrius Hunter in 2013 when two Kroger store were shut down in Southeast Raleigh, NC. The goal was to serve the community’s need for access to farm fresh healthy produce in the then designated food desert area. It is based upon was first modeled 85-years ago by Mr. Zelb Hunter born 1921 in Clayton, Johnston County North Carolina. Mr. Zelb is the father of Demetrius Hunter, our Founder and Project Director. There Zelb Hunter and his father loaded a cart constructed out of a cut-off car trunk into a wagon drawn by a mule. Together they delivered fresh vegetables and fruit from Clayton to Raleigh, NC. As a young man Zelb also watched his father farm the land and Mr. Hunter begin to work in the tobacco fields. As an adult Zelb Hunter decided to grow a garden on his own and began to sell the produce he harvested throughout the city of Raleigh.

 

Stuff We Do Best

Affordability: 95%
Fast Delivery Services: 88%
Packaging: 75%

For the six years Mr. Zelb was retired his son Demetrius Hunter was asked to revive the produce delivery business where he worked side-by-side with his father for nearly a decade. On November 1, 2013, with his then 93-year old father’s blessing and the communities support, Demetrius co-founded and launched, the evolved project concept “Grocers On Wheels” under his existing non-profit S.E.R.V.E. Mr. Zelb joined his son on the delivery route on the Grand Opening Day.

When WWII began in 1940, Zelb Hunter stopped farming and served tours in North Africa, European (Normandy, France D Day), and in the South Pacific. Mr. Hunter served in the US Army for three tours from 1941-1945 and was awarded four Bronze Stars for being under fire and an Arrowhead. His war stories were archived by Campbell University for the Library of Congress/Veteran’s Day Project. On June 23, 1948 Zelb Hunter married Penny Powell and they started sharecropping until they both became employed with the State of North Carolina.

Mr. Zelb Hunter was an entrepreneur from the heart and he continued to sell produce off and on throughout his career. He never let go of the very thing he learned as a young man, providing accessible, fresh produce to the community. In 1980, Mr. Hunter decided after retirement he would run the mobile produce service full-time with his wife. He went into the Raleigh Housing Projects in the southeast serving low-income citizens and seniors. He also provide his fresh mobile produce service in areas of Wake County outside of the projects where there was limited access to fresh foods.

 

Mr. Zelb Hunter’s son Demetrius Hunter began working with his father in 1999, learning his father’s business model, how to pick the best produce off the truck for customers, and working one-on-one with patrons regularly developing great customer service skills his father modeled. Mr. Zelb Hunter retired from delivering fresh produce in 2008 shortly after his wife passed away.

 

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Demetrius Hunter is a native of Raleigh, North Carolina and proudly resides in Southeast Raleigh. He is the founder of S.E.R.V.E’s (Southeast Raleigh Vicinity Emerging) , a 21st century technology community outreach project.

Hunter said his prices are “affordable and convenient” – he takes advantage of relationships with growers his father developed over the years. Grocers on Wheels makes deliveries, but its main model is driving up with a truckload of produce and setting up shop on the spot.

“Our food is just as fresh as the farm,” he said.

He’s made trips into Durham in the past – there’s a regular stop each fourth Thursday, 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Sisters Network on Fayetteville Street – but with the Whole Foods grant he and Woodley are adding.

“We are still adding places in our expansion and learning where we are most needed in Durham,” Woodley said.

History

Grocers on Wheels have a longer history, according to co-founder Demetrius Hunter.

“My dad, with his mule and cart, back in the Depression – he and his brother … sold directly to southeast Raleigh residents,” Hunter said. “I worked with him for 10 years, and that was helpful to me.”

His father’s example led Hunter and Anita Woodley to start Grocers on Wheels in 2013, taking produce for sale into a southeast Raleigh area when it’s’ only supermarket closed – leaving the area a food desert.

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