South Memphis

A Memphis CDC has come up with an innovative solution to address the city’s food deserts

What’s happening: A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held on Wednesday, Oct. 12, to celebrate the launch of a new initiative from The Works, Inc. It’s called the Mobile Grocer, an innovative solution to a problem that too many Memphians know all too well: the food desert, or neighborhoods that lack access to fresh produce and groceries. The community development corporation debuted their traveling grocery service with stops in two Memphis neighborhoods, and there’s more to come.

A glimpse inside the Mobile Grocer.What it is: The Mobile Grocer is a 44 ft.-long refrigerated trailer stocked with fresh, healthy produce and other groceries, the kind that you can’t find at your average corner store. Addressing hunger in underserved communities is one of the top priorities of The Works, and the Mobile Grocer builds off the momentum of the organization’s well-established South Memphis Farmers Market and brick-and-mortar neighborhood grocery store The Grocer, which is open year-round.

What they’re saying: “We call it our corner store-sized grocery store on wheels,” says Roshun Austin, President of The Works, Inc. “We can take it to different neighborhoods where there are food deserts and help those residents gain access to goods that are not found in your average corner store. No candy and chips; it’s produce, dairy, and shelf-stable foods. We carry things that they could buy in a grocery store at the cost that they would pay at a low-cost grocery store.”

Where to find it: The Mobile Grocer currently has three regular stops scheduled. Residents will be able to access the service each Wednesday at 1384 Jackson Ave. in Klondike and 3085 Steele St. in Frayser. On Fridays, the grocery service will visit Choice Neighborhood properties to serve the senior citizens there.

The goal is to build a regular rotation of 10 stops, consistently bringing the mobile grocery store to the same sites on the same days throughout the week. Keeping a regular schedule will help residents know when to expect the Mobile Grocer to arrive. Conversations are currently being had with various community organizations to confirm the future rotation, says Austin, and establishing the service in North Memphis neighborhoods is a priority.

Austin recommends following The Works, Inc. on social media for updates on the Mobile Grocer as it establishes its regular schedule.

“We can take it to different neighborhoods where there are food deserts and help those residents gain access to goods that are not found in your average corner store,” says Roshun Austin, President of The Works, Inc.How it works: In addition to cash, the Mobile Grocer accepts payment via SNAP benefits and EBT. Customers can also sign up for the SoMe Fresh Savings Program, which is available at no cost. As part of the program, SNAP recipients will earn an extra $20 for each $20 spent on produce. Seniors that don’t have SNAP, which includes those 60-years-old and older, will earn an extra $10 for each $10 spent.

How it happened: Austin credits several individuals and organizations with helping to raise the funds necessary to launch the Mobile Grocer, including private donors that wish to remain anonymous, Councilman Chase Carlisle, and Rick James with the Castle Retail Group.

Visit The Works, Inc. online and on Facebook to keep up with the latest Mobile Grocer news.
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