There are deserts in the Twin Cities. Not the ones rivaling the sandy, desolate Sahara—food deserts.
A “food desert” is a low-income residential area beset by poverty and poor health, which lacks supermarkets that contain fresh and healthy foods. Residents without cars or other means of transportation are most likely to subsist on highly processed convenience store fare, propelling the vicious cycle of worsening health.
Leah Driscoll, creator of the Twin Cities Mobile Market, has set out to change all that. Her mission is to make healthy, fresh foods available to the residents of Twin Cities food deserts by bringing goods straight to them in a converted Metro Transit bus carrying all kinds of reduced-price local produce. Similar systems have been instituted in other cities, but the Mobile Market is the first of its kind in Minnesota. The idea appealed to Driscoll because it combats poverty directly, from the ground up. “Food access is just a piece of the puzzle,” she says, “but healthy food is a right that everyone should have regardless of where they live.”
courtesy twin cities mobile market
The Mobile Market will deliver to areas such as the east side of St. Paul, Frogtown, and the St. Paul Promise neighborhood, and Driscoll would like to see expansion to Minneapolis later on. The organization receives fresh, homegrown produce through the Hmong-American Farmer’s Association. In the winter months, a locally owned Cub Foods will provide lower-price foods so the Mobile Market can keep running year round.
Driscoll has been wowed by the community support she’s seen for the Mobile Market—it surpassed its fundraising goal by 20 percent. The program will officially launch in August, and finally, some of the Twin Cities’ worst food deserts will have oases of fruits and veggies—and that’s no mirage.