SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Wegmans Food Markets is helping a group of local organizations bring fresh produce year-round to "food deserts" in this city in central New York state by means of a roving delivery truck.
The truck — dubbed the "Farm Fresh Mobile Market. A market for the people" — makes a dozen stops each week Monday through Friday in lower-income areas to sell produce to residents who have limited access to affordable and nutritious foods.
The program, launched in 2007, is operated by the Southside Interfaith CDC (Community Development Corp.) based here. Other current supporters include the Gifford Foundation, the Allyn Foundation, the Onondaga County Health Department, the Community Health Foundation of Western and Central New York and SUNY Morrisville.
Originally targeting the Southside community here, the Mobile Market expanded its scope this year to include other sections of this city, noted Brian Moore, director, foundation initiatives, Gifford Foundation, a private foundation here serving the central New York region.
The Mobile Market has been well-received, especially by seniors, but by others as well, said Moore. "There's definitely an audience for such a project." He acknowledged that the program needs to develop a way to measure its impact on the community.
Last year, Wegmans began giving the Syracuse Mobile Market program access to local growers (of strawberries and squash, for example) that supply the chain, as well as to the same pricing level the chain receives, said Evelyn Carter, Wegmans' Syracuse Division consumer affairs manager. Wegmans also sells produce to the program at cost, said Moore.
The Mobile Market staff has been able to attend Wegmans' training program for customer service, which includes "in-depth training on produce handling and freshness," as well as instruction on produce recipes that can be shared with shoppers, Carter said. The chain also helped design and provide the design elements for the delivery truck's exterior.