SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A mobile market, aiming to provide fresh fruits and vegetables among other sought-after groceries, will be coming to Sioux Falls this fall.
The city of Sioux Falls and Sioux Falls Thrive made the announcement of a $250,000 startup grant going towards a pilot program called Eat Well Mobile Market. The mobile market is being modeled after examples in other cities across the United States, including the Twin Cities Mobile Market.
“Folks are looking for high quality groceries,” Sophia Lenarz-Coy, executive director of The Food Group in Minnesota, told KELOLAND News. “They’re looking for basic staples that they can use to make meals. They want them to be affordable and accessible.”
The Food Group acquired the Twin Cities Mobile Market in 2020, but it has been serving the Twin Cities area for nearly a decade. Right now, the Twin Cities Mobile Market makes 24 stops in both St. Paul and Minneapolis, providing fresh groceries to areas with public housing and more senior living.
You can see how the Twin Cities Mobile Market transitioned from an old city bus to a mobile grocery store in the slideshow below.
Lenarz-Coy said the Twin Cities Mobile Market does not provide junk food options.
“That is not because we think no one deserves to eat junk food at all. People get to eat whatever they want, however they want it,” Lenarz-Coy said. “What we heard from customers is that those are the foods that are the most accessible.”
Lenarz-Coy said common foods include fresh fruits and vegetables as well as lean meat and dairy products. She said there’s a number of people who have used the Twin Cities Mobile Market and lost weight after eating more food from the bus.
“We’ve heard from participants that they really love how it can help them feel more independent,” Lenarz-Coy said. “It really does continue to be an in demand option.”
The Twin Cities Mobile Market has added four new stops to its weekly rotation. Lenarz-Coy said communication to communities remains a key part of success.
“Ask customers what they’re looking for,” Lenarz-Coy said. “It’s also just a really great community asset. We’ve seen that funders or volunteers love coming to the bus. It’s just a great thing that the community can really rally around.”
The Eat Well Mobile Market will focus on eight different neighborhoods in Sioux Falls, which are considered food access priority areas. Many of the neighborhoods are in the northern half of Sioux Falls.
The initial location and target populations will be in neighborhoods around the intersection of Cliff Ave. and Benson Ave.
Along with Sioux Falls Thrive, Fair Market/Empower, First United Methodist Church, First Presbyterian Church, Church on the Street, Augustana Research Institute, Active Generations, Sioux Falls Food Co+op and Feeding South Dakota teamed up to develop the mobile market grocery store idea.