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Mobile Markets

Mobile markets help retailers expand their customer base and provide rural residents regular access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Mobile markets work similarly to food trucks and have a set schedule and route where they make stops and deliveries. Transportation barriers are reduced by bringing a food market to rural and underserved areas.

The USDA authorizes the use of SNAP and WIC benefits at mobile markets, which can help increase the accessibility of these foods to low-income citizens. Programs that match the value of SNAP dollars for fruits and vegetables can also be implemented at mobile markets, increasing the purchasing power of low-income residents. Mobile markets help increase the amount of fruits and vegetables consumed by shoppers. This model can be designed as a for-profit or nonprofit, part of a farmers market, for a summer feeding program, or as a food pantry.

Examples of Mobile Market Programs

  • Roadrunner Food Bank is the largest food bank in New Mexico and works to reduce hunger and food insecurity across the state. As a member of Feeding America, the food bank focuses on “Feeding the Family” and designs its programs with the goal of reaching more families in the communities it serves. The food bank distributes approximately 32 million pounds of food each year to families in New Mexico. Thanks to its innovative Mobile Food Pantry, nearly one-third of those total pounds is fresh produce. The food bank's work with community organizations, leaders, and members helps increase food access in rural New Mexico in an efficient and effective way.

Implementation Considerations

This model requires:

  • Knowledge about the customer base
  • Business planning skills
  • Marketing skills to target consumers in different areas
  • Knowledge and adherence to federal, state, and local policies concerning food safety, transportation, and handling

Retailers should also be aware of what foods are culturally appropriate for the target population. Strong relationship and communication skills can help maintain connections with suppliers and consumers.

Resources to Learn More

Effectiveness of Fresh to You, a Discount Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Market in Low-Income Neighborhoods, on Children's Fruit and Vegetable Consumption, Rhode Island 2010-2011
Document
Study about the effect of a mobile market on children's consumption of fruits and vegetables.
Author(s): Gorham, G., Dulin-Keita, A., Risica, A., Mello, J., Papandonatos, G., Nunn, A., Gorham, S., Roberson, M., & Gans, K.
Citation: Preventing Chronic Disease,12
Date: 10/2015

Will a Mobile Farmers Market Work for Your Community?
Website
Presents lessons learned from a mobile farmers market in Michigan.
Author(s): Wills, K.
Organization(s): Michigan State University Extension