How often do you visit the grocery store? I typically find myself there about once or twice a week, though sometimes more often if I get a craving for some ice cream and need to run out and grab some real quick. There are three different grocery stores within five minutes of my house, each one fully-stocked with produce, frozen foods, and dairy products, to name a few of their many offerings. I’ve relied on grocery stores for my basic food needs for so long that I can’t imagine what it’d be like to live without one. Unfortunately, this is the reality for many people living in St. Louis, Missouri.
St. Louis is home to several low-income neighborhoods that have been deemed “food deserts.” These areas aren’t anywhere near as dry and desolate as somewhere like the Sahara, but, when it comes to finding fresh produce, your chances are just as unlikely. People living in these neighborhoods have extremely limited access to grocery stores and farmers’ markets, which makes it difficult for them to consume the amount of fruits and vegetables that are required to live a healthy life.
To combat this serious issue, Jeremy Goss, Tej Azad, and Colin Dowling founded what they call the “St. Louis MetroMarket.” Touted as “the area’s first mobile farmers’ market,” the MetroMarket is hard at work bringing the health benefits and convenience of a farmers’ market to the heart of St. Louis’ food deserts. The three co-founders built their mobile grocery out of an old Metro bus that the city wasn’t using anymore, and it’s pretty tough to ignore when you see it rolling down the street. Check out the images below to see the MetroMarket in action and find out more about this important non-profit.
Grocery stores are something many people take for granted, but some folks, like those living in St. Louis’ low-income neighborhoods, don’t have that luxury. Thus, the St. Louis MetroMarket was born.
Tej Azad and Colin Downing saw the need for increased access to food in their communities after graduating from Washington University. Along with Jeremy Goss, a medical student in the area, they decided to build something that would make a difference.
Housed inside an old Metro bus, this mobile farmers’ market brings access to fresh fruits, vegetables, canned goods, meat, and dairy to low-income neighborhoods in St. Louis.
“We just grew frustrated with what we were seeing, that there were people who lived in the city, and every other major city, who didn’t have a grocery store. And that’s something that just shouldn’t exist at this point,” explained Goss.
They named the bus “Turnip1,” which means we can probably look forward to even more of them in the future.
For those living in food deserts, shopping at the MetroMarket is completely free (other than the cost of your food, of course). If you don’t live in one of these neighborhoods, however, it costs $150 for an annual pass. According to MetroMarket, companies pay for these passes so that MetroMarket will come visit them and give their employees a chance to buy food while at work.
“We take the revenue that we make from the corporate campuses, and use that to offset the work that we’re doing in low-income communities,” says Goss. “For every corporation we take on as a customer, we can subsidize this work in a low-income community.”
For the corporations getting involved, it isn’t just a convenience thing – they strongly believe in MetroMarket’s mission.
Employees from various companies around St. Louis volunteer their time to help the MetroMarket conduct educational events. Some volunteers even hang around outside the bus and teach shoppers recipes!
MetroMarket has even partnered up with a local children’s hospital, where the doctors now write their patients “prescriptions” for fruits and veggies.
So, where does the MetroMarket go from here? Goss explained that, “The goal for every non-profit, I think, should be to put themselves out of business. It’s always been our long-term vision that the work not be necessary in 15 to 20 years time.” We wish them the best of luck in accomplishing their goal.
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H/T: Sunny Skyz