Have you heard about the Wabash Valley Mobile Market? It’s pretty new and pretty amazing. Why “amazing”? Because not only is it making Terre Haute a healthier place, but it also (in my opinion) makes it classier. A traveling produce truck? Very cool!
Wabash Valley Mobile Market
My friend Beth helps to manage the mobile market. I met up with her (i.e. we chatted via facebook) so that Haute Happenings’s readers could get the full scoop!
Haute Happenings: In one sentence, how would you describe the mobile market?
Beth: The Mobile Market is a traveling produce stand that brings fresh fruits and vegetables to neighborhoods in Terre Haute and West Terre Haute.
HH: What’s your role?
Beth: I am an AmeriCorps member, and the Mobile Market is the organization I am assigned to during my term. AmeriCorps is a federal program. I describe it as PeaceCorps but local instead of overseas. I have a contract to vounteer a certain number of hours this year with a community organization. In return I receive a monthly living stipend and an education award at the end of my term. It’s a great program! My specific role for the Mobile Market is to assist with stocking and organizing the produce each morning, assisting customers at our stops, and acting as the cashier. I also do many administrative tasks such as documenting, communication, and PR.
HH: I think of United Way as a charitable organization. Is the Mobile Market a charitable service intended for low-income families?
Beth: The Mobile Market is a part of the Healthier by 2020 initiative of the United Way of the Wabash Valley. The goal of the initiative is to improve the overall health in the Wabash Valley–especially by finding ways to decrease diseases that are a result of obesity. The Mobile Market is available for anyone and everyone to shop! However, we do target some impoverished neighborhoods as statistics show us these diseases are more prevalent in those who live under the poverty line. We realize many in our community have barriers to getting to the grocery store. That could be related to income, limited mobility, or the simple fact that there is no grocery store in the area.
HH: What items are available for sale? Beth: Our selection varies from week to week depending on the season and price, but we carry basic fruits and vegetables that most people use and love. Some of our more popular items are bananas, potatoes, apples, oranges, tomatoes, grapes, carrots, and salad mixes. We have try to offer as much variety as we can. For example, you will find avocados, mushrooms, corn, and yellow summer squash at the Mobile Market this week.
HH: How long has it been around and what’s the future of the Mobile Market? Beth: The Mobile Market’s official beginning was the first week in October in 2013. It is funded for three years, and the United Way is in the process of securing funding to continue it indefinitely. There has been talk of expanding its outreach to neighboring counties or obtaining more vehicles, but that would be something to decide far in the future. Right now, we are excited to be a part of the first year and see how it develops.
HH: Is there anything special about the produce? (Is it local? Is it cheaper than grocery stores? Is it organic?) Beth: Our produce comes through a produce distributor out of Indianapolis. It’s great quality! Our goal with the market is simply to break even so that we can buy our next order of produce. Therefore, we have a minimal mark-up to cover spoilage. I am a mom of three fruit-and-veggie-loving kids, so I know food prices. Our prices are competitive and often lower than at the grocery store. We don’t buy the quantity that grocery stores do, so sometimes our prices might be a little higher than Aldi or Wal-Mart. But don’t forget the convenience factor! Most of our customers don’t have to pay for gas to get there, which saves time and money. When the local growing season is in full swing, we hope to carry locally grown produce and have been working to make connections to local growers. We do not carry organic produce at this time.
HH: What forms of payment do you accept?
Beth: We accept cash, credit/debit cards, and EBT/SNAP cards.
HH: What’s the link for the schedule/market map?
You can find more info about the Wabash Valley Mobile Market on the United Way site.
HH: Anything else you’d like us to know?
Beth: Kids always have a good time on the market. Also, I know this isn’t the Haute Happenings demographic, but I have been surprised about the number of seniors in our community that have greatly benefited from the market because they have such limited funds and have a hard time getting to the store. I love their smiles!
One final note from Haute Happenings:
Beth has encouraged me to bring my girls by the market so that they can have the experience of shopping for and buying their own food. Sure, they shop with me at the grocery store, but that experience is usually so frantic/crazy/stressful that I handle the checkout process. I’m sure that shopping at the mobile market will be much more fun, educational, and empowering!