Oasis In The Food Desert Farm To Family Mobile Market

By Nancy Smith,
secretary, Farm to Family

A food desert is an area, either rural or urban, that does not have access for ordinary people to healthy foods at affordable prices. The St. Louis area has a number of food deserts. Enter Farm to Family, in partnership with the Wallace HUFED Center, and what have you got? Farm to Family Mobile Market is the answer.

For the winter of 2011/2012, this mobile market will consist of a truck, the healthiest food available, and two employees of Farm to Family.  Tim Woods and John Williams plan the markets, pick the product, pack the truck, and set up the market in inner city neighborhoods in partnership with institutions such as health care centers and day cares.
On December 16, 2011, Tim and John took the Farm to Family Mobile Market on its maiden voyage. They packed the Farm to Family Mobile Market truck with an assortment of local and other fresh produce, some affordable protein foods like eggs and dried beans, and some affordable Christmas food items. The markets had already been arranged with East Side Health District on the other side of the river and Leaning Tree day care facility on Labadie in St. Louis. Before they even had the good, fresh, healthy food out of the truck, residents of the neighborhoods were trying to buy it.

Farm to Family’s partners had served our mission well by educating their clients and creating some excitement about the project, and their clients responded with a warm welcome for the market. Men, women and children happily inspected and chose fresh produce and other food items which are usually very difficult for them to buy. Many neighborhoods in St. Louis have no supermarkets for two or more miles. Shoppers are forced to carry groceries on buses or on foot and therefore are unable to buy bulky items. The convenience store or the dollar store often become their only grocery store, so fresh produce is very scarce.

Farm to Family Mobile Markets are in the very early stages. There are plans for a partnership with Metro Transit Authority to retrofit a bus and set up markets at transfer stations. The buses would provide a portable indoor market for shoppers, so would take the plan forward in a significant way. By late spring, this stage of the project should become a reality.

In the meantime, Farm to Family’s Sappington Farmers Market continues to stock new local items daily. Thousands of items have had price reductions and the atmosphere of the store continually improves. So if a shopper is lucky enough to live near Sappington Farmers Market, or has transportation to get there, the store is still the best destination. For those who have been trapped in food deserts, welcome to the Farm to Family oasis.
Sappington Farmers Market is located at 8400 Watson Road, between Elm