Mobile Market Brings Fresh Food
"Because folks all faced the same challenges, and we couldn't open a storefront, it made sense to do something on wheels. Bringing food to the people made more sense than bringing people to the food..."
New Haven's West Rock neighborhood is a classic example of a food desert. Only two small convenience stores (stocked primarily with candy, chips, and soda) are within walking distance, and many residents can't afford a car and live several miles from the nearest grocery store. The result is that not enough fresh fruits and vegetables are getting to a community that has a higher-than average rate of chronic health issues related to poor diet.
Common Ground and City Seed have teamed up to do something about the problem by launching the Mobile Market (link to New Haven Independent article). This farm stand on wheels supplies fresh fruit and vegetables grown on the urban farm at Common Ground and by other food producers in the region. This fall, the market is going to neighborhoods in West Rock, West River and Newhallville, with plans for expansion next year.
A multi-year grant from The Community Foundation helped fund the project, which used community outreach surveys conducted by Common Ground and the Yale School of Public Health's Community Alliance for Research and Engagement (CARE) to identify the communities with the least access to healthy food.
"People were shocked at how isolated some neighborhoods were from buying fresh food," said Joel Tolman, Director of Development & Community Engagement at Common Ground. "Because folks all faced the same challenges, and we couldn't open a storefront, it made sense to do something on wheels. Bringing food to the people made more sense than bringing people to the food."
Students are staffing the market, and gaining work and business experience in the process.The Mobile Market is also making fresh produce affordable. City Seed, which manages the stand, has grant funding that enables customers to receive twice the value printed on public-assistance food vouchers.
"We are thrilled to launch this project," said City Seed Executive Director Nicole Berube. "It has the potential for greatly improving healthy, local food access for many in New Haven. We have tried a number of models beyond the traditional farmers' market, and we believe this one can provide more flexibility and choice for residents."
The Mobile Market operates in the summer and fall. Visit the Mobile Market schedule online for more information.