MARKET SPOTLIGHTS: FRESH EXPRESS MOBILE MARKET HITS THE ROAD WITH HEALTHY FOOD FOR ALL
Farmers markets play an important role in bringing healthy food to all Arizonans. Over the next few weeks, we’re highlighting a few of our Arizona markets that go above and beyond when it comes to serving neighborhoods and community members who need it the most.
The Fresh Express Mobile Market brings fresh food to stops across the Valley in a bus stocked with healthy fruits and vegetables. Elyse Guidas, the Executive Director of Fresh Express Mobile Market, explains the market’s commitment to bringing healthy food directly to neighborhoods who may not have easy access to fresh produce:
1. Does your market help bring fresh food to neighborhoods that need it the most? How?
Fresh Express is a former city bus transformed into a mobile produce market that provides access to fresh fruits and vegetables for Maricopa County residents who live in food deserts. Fresh Express provides nearly 80 stops per month at community locations including low-income housing complexes, elementary schools, senior centers, health clinics, community centers, and more. We accept a variety of payment options including cash, credit, and EBT/SNAP. Fresh Express is proud to offer Double Up Food Bucks to our customers so more individuals and families can afford healthy, nutritious and locally grown fruits and vegetables all year long.
2. Why is it important for farmers markets/farm stands/CSA’s to reach community members who are struggling or in need of access to healthy food?
Access to affordable, healthy, fresh produce is paramount to a leading a healthy, productive lifestyle. The communities we serve primarily reside in food desert areas in Phoenix and Tempe, meaning many residents have little to no access to grocery stores or healthy food retailers. The lack of access becomes an even greater burden to families and individuals during the hot summer months when traveling a mile or more to a grocery store can be dangerous. By providing regular service in areas where these residents live, work, learn, and play, Fresh Express gives its customers opportunities to prepare healthy, nutritious foods for themselves and their families. Regular access to fresh, healthy produce is essential to combat diet-related illnesses like obesity, diabetes, and other chronic health conditions and Fresh Express is proud to be that healthy resource for many in low access communities.
3. Does your market assist low-income neighbors, work with vulnerable seniors, donate food to local food banks or accept federal food and nutrition program benefits?
Fresh Express works primarily in low-income, low access neighborhoods and frequents many senior living facilities in the cities of Tempe and Phoenix. Because we believe that everyone regardless of where they live deserves access to healthy, affordable fruits and vegetables, Fresh Express works tirelessly to ensure that our most vulnerable populations have regular access to Fresh Express market stops. Additionally, Fresh Express accepts SNAP/EBT payments and participates in Double Up Food Bucks Arizona so that customers on fixed incomes can buy more healthy and locally grown fruits and vegetables at affordable prices.
4. Is there anything else you’d like to share about your market’s efforts to bring healthy food to neighborhoods that need it the most?
We are more than just a market on wheels; we are proud of the partnerships and relationships we developed during our three years of service in the community. By providing affordable, fresh produce and nutrition education resources, we’ve become a safe place for community members to access nourishing foods, learn healthy eating behaviors, connect with fellow community members, and lead productive, joyful lives.
Find a Fresh Express stop near you by visiting http://www.discoverytriangle.org/fresh-express.html. Stay tuned to our blog, Facebook page and Twitter as we continue to highlight our incredible markets, growers and efforts in Arizona.
Does your favorite market or farmer assist low-income neighbors, work with vulnerable seniors, donate food to local food banks or accept federal food and nutrition program benefits? Nominate them today for the American Farmland Trust’s Farmers Market Celebration!