Better Health for Food Deserts: Are Mobile Farmers Markets the Answer? | Health on GOOD

Thanks to new NYC friends Anna and Manuel of Zago for sending this. Whenever I see an article on mobile markets, a few questions immediately come to mind, here are some in no particular order:

• How can people use these initiatives to leverage good food coming into their area more regularly? Has there been an example of a mobile truck initiative that led to food security? It would seem to me that if paired with some other food and social initiatives either in concert or in succession, this might be a powerful tool.

• Has anyone figured out a good business model yet? I believe that there is one out there, yes have not read of it yet.
Possibly using it as a simultaneous delivery mechanism for middle or upper income food orders might help offset the costs.
Or maybe mobile trucks can be a meal service that offers healthy food also as healthy prepared meals sent out just before and during non-traditional meal times (for those working people with typically odd work schedules) at low prices, along with some information. Sort of a combination of the food truck with the mobile market.
Or one of those ideas on our “someday” list at my last organization in New Orleans-to create a “useful” mobile market with non-food items like paper products, juice, simple hardware items etc along with those food items.

• Along those lines, is this type of thing best used as a temporal idea that to begin to promote good food and to gather initial data to then get the area to the next more permanent idea or is there a long term strategy as to their use?

• Finally, when farmers sell to these outlets, does it increase their reach or decrease it? In other words, have farmers begun to grow or make products just for these endeavors or are they taking products from other outlets? And if they have added this to their sales reach, is it financially viable for them to do so? And from the standpoint of the organizers, are many of these using their very mobility to share gleaned or seconds from those market farmers that these mobile trucks can reach easily and in some quantity on market day?

or as Manuel eloquently wrote in the conversation we had via email around this topic:
One of the biggest challenges for me when thinking about scale and community, especially when thinking about underserved urban populations, is the problem of density and offerings. The smaller and more challenged the environment the more difficult is to build volume, presence and relevance.


I look forward to the continuing conversation around this idea and connecting these initiatives to market organizations whenever applicable.

Better Health for Food Deserts: Are Mobile Farmers Markets the Answer? | Health on GOOD.

Oakland get together

If you haven’t been to the Community Food Security Coalition’s annual conference-well unfortunately, you’re about to miss another.

This weekend and early next week, hundreds of food activists will gather in Oakland (yes, right across from the Occupy protests) to discuss, learn and move forward.

As we grow our movement, the need to share grows as well. Spending time in hotel ballrooms can often seem like a cruel fate for active people, but that time together speeds up all of our strategy for implementation.
Do look at 2012 and see where you can put some time away from your important projects and see others important projects. And, if you can, join CFSC in listening to the movement.

About CFSC

Nashville food system work

Went to the 2011 Food Summit in Nashville this weekend, convened by Community Food Advocates. I drove there from New Orleans (just about the same amount of time to drive as to fly-about 9 hours each way) and so I was able to view some of the damage from the tornado destruction and to hear from folks along the way about the flooding of Memphis from the Mississippi and its tributaries.
The one day summit is the follow up from their 2008 Summit and shows just how much can be done in less than 3 years in one area. Over 300 people registered for this event and the breadth of the projects represented was impressive.
What is working is the deep commitment to social justice issues, such as racial equity and cultural barriers. The universities are involved, the neighborhood activists are involved and the food system fulcrums that already existed (like the Nashville Farmers Market) are there.
I am looking through their handout book “From Charity to Justice” which outlines the food insecurity in the Nashville area. Seems like a textbook example of using Mark Winne and CFSC’s Food Policy training, which means they will be successful.
I think the highlight for me was the taped video message from Mark to the Nashville folks (who he clearly has worked closely with):
“For God’s sake, don’t blow it.”
Community Food Advocates