Mobile farmers' markets that accept SNAP benefits are bringing fresh produce directly to the communities that need it most. According to the USDA Economic Research Service, 2.3 million low-income households do not have access to a vehicle and live more than a mile from the closest supermarket. Individuals in these households face both financial and transportation barriers to getting healthy, nutritious foods for their families.
The mobile farmers' market initiative is a win-win for all parties. SNAP recipients in food insecure locations are able to obtain fresh fruits and vegetables, and local farmers gain new economic opportunities and an additional customer base.
Beans & Greens, which operates in the Kansas City metropolitan area, was created specifically to address the issue of food insecurity and food deserts on the local level. The organization uses a truck to visit various areas in the region and sells fruits, vegetables, meats, and cheeses. Customers on the SNAP program are able to double their benefits on items purchased at the mobile market.
In the Richmond, Virginia area, Farm to Family uses a converted school bus to bring fresh food products into the community. In addition, Wednesday through Friday customers can call and schedule a Farm to Family visit in their own neighborhood.
Using mobile farmers' markets as a strategy to increase access to food is an idea that's spreading to other areas of the country. New Jersey recently passed legislation to create a statewide mobile farmers' market network targeted at low-income residents, and in Washington, DC Arcadia's Mobile Market Project is expected to launch in late spring.