Foodlink Mobile Market celebrates ten years

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — For those who live in the city, finding fresh produce can be a bit of a challenge. That’s why Foodlink offers a weekly mobile market, for under-served neighborhoods.

Foodlink was celebrating 10 years for the market on Friday.

People who live at Kennedy Tower are thankful for Foodlink’s mobile markets.

“We buy collard greens, oranges, you know, things we really need,” said Patty Gray.

The trucks are loaded with fresh fruits and vegetables, and visit streets where people have limited access to healthy food. Produce comes from local farmers, and food distributors in the area. Neighbors like Gray say they heavily rely on it.

The two nearest grocery stores are a Tops on South Clinton, and a Tops on West Aveue. Both are 8-10-minute drives, and not an option for people without transportation.

“Now if you’re walking, it takes about two hours to get to the store,” she said.

Troy Mitsuda lives at Kennedy Tower, and said in order to get to the Tops on West Avenue, he has to take two buses, and wear a large backpack to bring home his groceries.

“I have to go down to Henrietta, becuase the Wegmans are not in town, they’re in the countryside.”

Florence Clemmons, director of community based strategies with Foodlink, says outreach involves more than bringing markets to these areas. It’s changing the way city residents view food. Shelves of corner stores often carry unhealthy snacks, drinks and alcohol. Access to fresh fruit, and greens, is just more difficult.

“So we have to educate not only the stores that carry fresh fruits and vegetables, but educate more of our community. And that’s what we’re doing,” said Clemmons. “That’s what the curbside market does. We can be there to help educate the community, health education as well. So it’s very important that we all work together to make this a solution for everyone.”

As the work for Foodlink continues, Clemmons is hoping for ten more years of successful outreach.

“I really hope that the city and the county can really figure out to engrain this work, into I guess a budget, so we could expand even more.”

The markets have also been providing home delivery, serving more than 150 expectant mothers.

They’re also the first mobile vendor in the country to accept WIC (women-infant-and-children) benefits as a form of payment.