A new initiative from nonprofit Farmshare Austin hopes to change the way underserved neighborhoods eat. Dubbed mobile produce markets, the temporary stands deliver seasonal vegetables and fruit to two areas of town that need it most: Del Valle and far East Austin.
The markets can be found in Del Valle at Los Cielos Park (Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5-7 pm) and Hornsby-Dunlap Elementary (Wednesdays from 4-6 pm) and in East Austin at KIPP Austin Public Schools (Fridays from 3:30-5 pm). The locations are crucial, because both neighborhoods need more produce options — there is no large-format grocery store in Del Valle.
"This will bring people into our park and show them that we are trying to better assist those who are unable to get to a store to buy fresh produce," said Trish Burton, president of Los Cielos Homeowners Association, in a release. "While the kids are playing, their parents are shopping. It's convenient. It's home-grown. It's as fresh as you can get it without growing it yourself."
It's also affordable. Farmshare Austin has partnered with the Sustainable Food Center to offer Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, which allows SFC to match up to $20 for produce purchases.
The fall season of Farmshare Austin's mobile market program, which runs through December 16, is possible thanks to a grant from City of Austin. Looking ahead, Farmshare Austin hopes to secure more funding and expand the mobile market initiative, which is a portion of the organization's mission to grow food access through organic farming, educational programs, and land preservation.
"I'm excited to explore the different paths that this program could take," said Carolina Mueller, Farmshare Austin's mobile market coordinator, in the release. "Whether it's running a fleet of mobile markets all over the city or developing a business plan for Austin residents to start their own markets in their neighborhoods, the possibilities for increasing food access feels endless."