Lexington’s new “Mobile Market” prepares to address food insecurity, lack of healthy food options

By Quin Welch, Building Kentucky

Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton expects Lexington’s new Mobile Market to hit the streets in July. Photo credit: City of Lexington

Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton recently announced the City of Lexington’s new “Mobile Market” – a program designed to address food insecurity among residents — is preparing to hit the streets  throughout Lexington beginning in July.

A recommendation made by the Mayor’s Commission for Racial Justice and Equality in 2020 called for the City to help make fresh, healthy food more easily accessible for all of Lexington’s residents. After Gorton and her team researched ways to make this goal feasible, they found that some cities had success with mobile grocery stores that parked in various areas for residents who may live in food deserts or struggle with reliable transportation.

One of the cities with a successful mobile market happened to be neighboring Louisville, where a partnership between Dare to Care Food Bank and Kroger resulted in Dare to Care’s Zero Hunger Mobile Market. The market is a single-aisle grocery store stocked with fresh fruit, vegetables, meat and other items commonly found in grocery stores. A truck tows the market throughout Louisville – which is housed in a trailer – and makes 2-3 stops per day in various areas throughout the city.

Tiffany Brown, the City’s Equity and Implementation Officer, led the charge and brought the Commission’s recommendation to life. After holding several community engagement sessions in Lexington, residents made it clear that this was something they wanted in their city. Brown’s attention began working on the logistics of the project, and turned to Dare to Care to learn about how their program works.

Tiffany Brown serves as the Equity and Implementation Officer in Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton’s administration.

“The Dare to Care Zero Hunger Mobile Market was the closest program that we could study and actually take some of their lessons learned so we could eliminate some of those challenges at the planning phase,” Brown said. “Our Division of Fleet Services was able to go to Louisville and get specifications of the truck and trailer and help us source the best fit for the Lexington program.”

“By working alongside the community, we’re able to implement programs that work best for our neighbors in need,” said Alexus Richardson, Director of Communications at Dare to Care. “By listening and challenging ourselves to think deeper we’ve created programs that have become a catalyst for other food banks across the country. We hope to continue learning and inspiring others so we can truly end hunger together.”

Kroger – who helps operate the Dare to Care Zero Hunger Mobile Market in Louisville – will partner with God’s Pantry, a food bank headquartered in Lexington to operate the program. The City is providing the truck and the trailer for the program, but believes experts in food marketing and distribution should manage the Mobile Market.

Brown emphasized that this program was a product of a team-driven approach, and praised each of the partners involved for coming together to make Lexington a healthier city.

“Food insecurity requires a multi-pronged approach – it takes all of us, every organization, every community leader, working together,” Brown said. “The introduction of our Mobile Market represents a significant step forward in enhancing convenience, accessibility, and sustainability in the realm of grocery access, and making Lexington a more equitable city leveraging resources and partnerships, like the one we’ve forged to make this a success,” Brown said.

Gorton said the program presents more opportunities for Lexington residents to easily find access to healthy, nutritious foods – which was the ultimate goal for Gorton and her team.

“This is a way to address insufficient nutrition, improve general health, and address childhood obesity,” Gorton said.

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