The Mobile Market’s new stop freshens the West Side
In areas deep-rooted in the Syracuse urban core, one woman and her team of dietary staff set out to raise awareness of eating healthy. “I hope I can continue moving on throughout the city bringing kids fresh fruits and vegetables,” says Diane Turner, president of the Southside Interfaith Community Development Corp. and coordinator for the Farm Fresh Mobile Market.
After a successful pilot run at the Mundy Branch Library, 1204 S. Geddes St., in October, Turner agreed to continue the new stop every Friday from 2:30 to 4 p.m. The Mobile Market has brought an average of 50 customers each week since opening on Jan. 7. Serving items from apples and squash to rice and beans at wholesale prices, the Mobile Market cuts the extra cost supermarkets add for distribution. Despite the discounted prices, Turner and library administrators both agree that weather has played a big role in the less-thanexpected turnout.
“Having to sell their goods inside seems to be impacting our reach the most,” notes Janet Park, manager for the Mundy Branch Library. “In warmer weather we usually have a lot of people walking the neighborhood.”
Park supports the Mobile Market because of its integrity and service to the Syracuse community (see accompanying story for a list of other stops). Turner plans on continuing her stop at the Mundy Branch as long as she feels it’s needed. Park says it’s a service that’s very useful to the neighborhood.
“People around here don’t have cars, so it’s harder to get around,” Park points out. “So it brings the supermarket closer to the community.”
Along with troubles of below-zero temperatures and record snowfall, the market also relies on children from the nearby elementary school to inform their parents of the fresh produce. Rachel Murphy, registered dietitian for the Onondaga County Health Department, works with the mobile market to make sure the community understands the importance of their visit. She says most children don’t know what to ask for when choosing healthy foods. And although they may not tell their parents about the mobile market, Murphy believes the conversations she has with the kids will help them make better choices in the future.
“My role is to educate and promote. If there’s a beautiful array of fresh fruits and vegetables, but no one really knows how to eat them, they won’t be sold,” Murphy says.
The Mobile Market could not function without donations they receive from the Onondaga Health Department and entities like the Allyn Foundation. Turner says donations like the $10,000 received from the Allyn Foundation help keep the price of produce down, especially during a season where not much food is available from local sources. With much of the produce imported from South America and Mexico, the harsh Syracuse weather damages some of the items, increasing their price.
Still, the Mobile Market keeps fruits and vegetables below supermarket costs. Green peppers, which cost $1.99 per pound at most area grocery stores, are 50 cents per pepper at the Mobile Market. Turner also takes requests for exotic foods like plantains, a type of banana imported from the Caribbean, but not readily available at local supermarkets. The Market accepts EBT cards and cash.
With help from the community, Turner plans on hiring more staff members to add to her team of four. She also wants to buy a second Mobile Market truck to increase her productivity and to further expand to different areas around the city. The Mobile Market currently operates four days a week, Tuesdays through Fridays and stops at nine locations around the Syracuse community with a new to-be-determined stop on the North Side.
Food on the Run
The Mobile Market operates throughout Syracuse at the following locations and times:
Brighton Towers, 821 E. Brighton Ave., 10 a.m.-noon Vinette Towers, 947 Pond St., 12:30-2 p.m. Alums Oliver Towers, 300 Burt St., 3-4 p.m.
Valley Vista, 122 Seneca Turnpike, 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. James Geddes Housing, 312 Gifford St. and 427 Tully St., 2-5 p.m.
Toomey-Abbott, 1207 Almond St., 10 a.m.-noon Syracuse Community Health Center, 819 S. Salina St., 1-3 p.m.
Ross Tower, 710 Lodi St., 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Mundy Branch Library, 1204 S. Geddes St., 2:30-4:30 p.m.