Mobile Market Helps Lessen Food Desert Impact

The idea was simple: bring fresh produce to those who need it the most.

With a scarcity of quality choices for fresh fruits, vegetables and other healthy items in the urban core of Kansas City, the Hospital Hill Economic Development Corporation partnered with Truman Medical Centers to bring a mobile version of TMC’s weekly produce market directly to the community. This was the first such mobile market in the region.

Now nearly three years old, the TMC Mobile Market has brought thousands of Kansas City area residents fresh produce at affordable prices.

“I’m here almost every week,” said one Southside resident. “It’s convenient, and it saves me from having to haul this through the grocery store,” pointing to her large bag of produce.

The 40-foot retro-fitted bus, donated by the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA), is stocked with seasonal produce and some non-perishable items. Shoppers can purchase the same high-quality produce that’s found in most grocery stores.

The bus maintains a regular route throughout the urban core with about 10 stops a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays. In addition, it often makes non-scheduled appearances to accommodate numerous requests by community leaders.

Each week, the market sells an average of 1,100 pounds of produce and serves more than 150 customers.

While quality and convenience are important aspects of the Mobile Market, it also fulfills an urgent need. Many urban core residents live in a food desert, neighborhoods that are more than a mile from the nearest grocery store. For those without reliable transportation, that poses a major barrier to getting fresh, affordable and healthy food.

And that lack of healthy food directly impacts the high incidences of diabetes, hypertension, congestive heart failure and obesity in those areas.

Providing residents with healthier food options is only part of changing that dynamic. Staff on board the bus help educate its customers as well. TMC dietitians are available to help teach customers how to eat healthier and provide healthy recipes to demonstrate what can be made from a variety of produce.

Want to check out the Mobile Market for yourself? Go to our website for the latest schedule. You can also schedule a visit for your special event by completing the “contact us” form.

Donations are encouraged in order to help us keep the prices affordable. To donate, call 816-404-3300.

This blog post is part of A Healthy 10.

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