Mobile Market to Bring Fresh Food to Jamestown Areas in Need

Produce available through the Jamestown Mobile Market
Produce available through the Jamestown Mobile Market

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Jamestown Public Market

So many of us take for granted a daily task with little thought: going to the grocery store. However an astonishing 33% of people in areas known as ‘food deserts’ do not have such a luxury. Defined by the USDA, food deserts are sections of an urban or rural area where at least 33% of a community’s population lives more than one mile from a grocery store or market selling fresh fruits and vegetables. Jamestown, along with many other urban settings across the United States, is recognized as a city with a significant food desert.

This lack of proximity to a supermarket chain or fresh food market can pose a challenge to individuals and families who also lack transportation options. Many do not own their own vehicle, or cannot rely on consistent transportation alternatives such as rides with family, friends or public transit. Stores that often exist within food desert areas are smaller, convenient type chains that offer low-cost, but unhealthy food options.

Organizations across the country are trying to solve this problem through the use of Mobile Markets. A mobile market, or farmers market on wheels, breaks through barriers faced by low-income individuals by bringing fresh food to communities in need. Several successful models exist in Buffalo, Rochester and the Syracuse area.

Starting this summer, a mobile market will call Jamestown home. The Jamestown Renaissance Corporation (JRC) in partnership with several community organizations is launching an 8-week pilot program designed to address issues of hunger and food insecurity within the city. Public Market Manager Linnea Carlson describes the need for such a program, “37% of Jamestown residents live below the poverty line, and many of these individuals also lack transportation. Several community organizations work diligently each day to address issues of hunger in our communities, including food pantries and local farmers markets. What we noticed was a disconnect between the food needed and the food available. Fresh produce is hard to find, unless you travel to a large grocery store or local farm stands. A Mobile Market addresses all of these concerns while adding another layer of support to our community.”

Realizing the need for an increase in healthy food access in Jamestown, JRC applied for and received the USDA Farmers Market Promotion Program grant in October of 2017. Established to improve or expand direct producer to consumer market opportunities that benefit local farmers, the funding has significantly impacted the food systems work at JRC. This summer has seen an increase in event programming at the Jamestown Public Market, as well as an increase in profits to farmers and other local agricultural producers. The grant also provides funding for the establishment of a mobile market.

Beginning August 8, the Jamestown Mobile Market program will travel to various locations throughout the city, setting up ‘pop-up’ farmers markets that serve the public. All produce available is locally sourced through farms that currently attend the Jamestown Public Market. JRC is grateful to partner with Conduit Ministries of Jamestown, who will be providing use of their food truck for produce transportation. Each mobile market stop will consist of an hour and a half event, with three stops each Wednesday between August and October.

The mobile market will make the following stops this season:

Each Wednesday for the month of August

  • Tree of Life Lutheran Church (556 E. Second Street) 10am to 11:30am
  • Crestline Villa (113 Anderson St.) 12 to 1:30pm
  • The Salvation Army (83 South Main Street) 2pm to 3pm

Each Wednesday for the month of September

  • Tree of Life Lutheran Church (556 E. Second Street) 10am to 11:30am
  • The Gateway Center (31 Water Street) 12 to 1:30pm
  • Crestline Villa (113 Anderson Street) 2pm to 3:30 pm

Produce will be available in traditional farmers’ market portions and priced at $1 per item. Free $5 coupons will be provided to the community through distribution at Conduit Ministries, the Salvation Army, St. Susan’s Soup Kitchen, Eat Smart NY, The Resource Center, and Community Helping Hands during the weeks leading up to the program’s launch. Community programs will attend various mobile market locations to provide services to customers. Individuals do not need proof of ID or income to receive items at the mobile market.

Thanks to a generous sponsorship from United Healthcare, JRC is able to provide incentives to the community that go directly toward the purchase of fresh produce. Individuals in need will be able to receive the free coupon weekly and utilize it to receive up to 5 servings of produce. Additional produce can be purchased at reduced cost or donation. Carlson is excited to bring the community together under this new and unique project, “This is an exciting program for our great city, and benefits all of us: local community organizations doing phenomenal work, our dedicated farmers, and most importantly our neighbors.”

A community kick-off event will be held August 1, from 5 to 7 pm at the Tree of Life Evangelical Church. This event will be a chance for the community to meet the Mobile Market partners and learn more about the program. Refreshments will be provided.

Individuals interested in volunteering for the mobile market program, or community organizations interested in partnering can contact Carlson at 489-3497 or linnea@jamestownrenaissance.org