Mobile Food Markets to provide fresh produce to city’s South and West Sides

Photo courtesy of Fresh Market Facebook
Photo courtesy of Fresh Market Facebook

[dropcap]F[/dropcap]resh Moves Mobile Markets will begin providing affordable fresh fruits and vegetables in food desert communities on the city’s South and West sides this week.

The city will provide one out-of-service transit bus plus fuel and maintenance for one year in support of the program, which will offer affordable, locally-sourced fresh fruits and vegetables in underserved areas. Growing Power, a national leader of the Good Food Movement for the last 20 years and an award-winning model of sustainable urban farming, will bring locally-sourced fresh produce to neighborhood stops throughout 12 communities in the program’s first year.

“Every Chicago family deserves access to affordable, healthy food options and the Mobile Markets program will help to ensure that we eliminate food deserts in the city of Chicago,” said Mayor Emanuel. “Over the last few years, we have decreased the number of low-income Chicagoans without access to fresh fruits and vegetables by 40 percent, and this new and innovative program will bring healthy options to more neighborhoods across the city.”

The out-of-service bus will be retrofitted by Growing Power to serve as a mobile market, making community stops throughout the week at public locations including schools, health clinics and community centers, where residents can purchase locally-sourced fresh produce. Residents will be able to use SNAP to make purchases.

Beginning Saturday, July 18, the Mobile Markets will be open year-round on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays.

9 to 10:30 a.m.
CHA – Dearborn Homes (2960 S. Federal St.)
11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Neighborhood Housing Services (3601 West Chicago Avenue)

1 to 2:30 p.m.
Beth Anne Place/Bethel New Life (1143 N. Lavergne Ave.)

3 to 4:30 p.m.
So Fresh Saturdays; Touring Farmers Market (various locations)

10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
IMAN Market (2744 W. 63rd St.)

“The launch of this program will enable us to distribute local, fresh and affordable food to families and communities in underserved Chicago neighborhoods, as well as support emerging urban farmers via Farmers for Chicago,” said Erika Allen, director of Growing Power Chicago.

In May 2015, Emanuel introduced an ordinance authorizing the Department of Fleet and Facility Management to provide one out-of-service transit bus and fuel and maintenance for one year in support of this program. The Department of Fleet and Facility Management will provide up to $110,000 in fuel and maintenance costs to support the program in its first year.

“Fresh food options on the South Side are scarce,” said 34th Ward Alderman Carrie Austin. “With this understanding, it’s not hard to recognize why I am a proud supporter of this program that will allow hard-working individuals and families, both in the 34th Ward and across the city of Chicago, an opportunity to access fresh fruits and vegetables.”

Mobile food markets are part of a larger united strategy across Chicago’s communities, government and businesses to eliminate food deserts in Chicago. Over the last three years, Emanuel has opened eight new grocery stores in underserved areas and another five are planning to open soon, as well as expanding 18 existing stores to offer fresh produce. City-operated farmers markets have nearly doubled since 2011, with a 60-percent increase in the number of markets accepting SNAP. The city also created a new business license to allow the sale of fresh fruits and vegetables at free-standing produce stands throughout low-income areas of the city. Through these efforts, the number of low income Chicagoans living in food deserts has declined by 40 percent.

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