Mobile Farmers’ Market winds down debut season

Posted on: August 30th, 2018 by Glenn

The new Mobile Farmers’ Market, a program of the Joint Council for Economic Opportunity (JCEO) and the North Country Healthy Heart Network, wrapped up its debut season on Aug. 31.

The Mobile Market provides access to fresh fruit and vegetables, baked goods and a salad bar at 10 community-based stops in northern Franklin County. The program is made possible with support from Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, Cornell Cooperative Extension’s SHINE program, and the New York State Department of Health’s Creating Healthy Schools & Communities program.

“The market has been an outstanding success,” said Richard Lavigne, JCEO’s food service director. “We’ve had calls from everywhere asking about how we set it up and how it works. We’ve also provided many tours to people who want to replicate it in their own communities.”

JCEO used Excellus funding and grant money secured by the Heart Network from the state’s Creating Healthy Schools & Communities program to convert a minibus into a mobile market, which makes stops in communities that don’t have access to grocery stores, regular access to fruit and vegetables or access to reliable transportation. Last year’s market was at three locations in Malone.

“Our goal was to provide fresh vegetables to communities that presently do not have a source to purchase such items at a reasonable cost,” Lavigne said. “I think we’ve done just that. Our sales, compared to last year’s van, have quadrupled. We’ve been able to generate a lot of buzz and and now we have an even better idea of the produce people want to buy; we will reconfigure JCEO’s greenhouse to grow those items.”

The Heart Network provided technical assistance with acquiring equipment, promoted the market and connected the program with other community partners.

“The Mobile Market has been a big win,” said Andrea Goff, program coordinator at the Heart Network. “At the Heart Network, we want to create systems that promote healthy communities. A key component of that is making healthy products more accessible in communities that have limited buying options.”

Excellus’s Community Health Awards support programs that have clear goals to improve the health or health care of specific populations. Grants focus on improving the health status of a community, reducing the incidence of specific diseases, promoting health education and enhancing overall wellness.

Creating Healthy Schools and Communities is a coordinated, multi-sector initiative designed to increase demand for and access to healthy, affordable foods and opportunities for daily physical activity in high-need school districts and their associated communities.

SHINE — Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Senior’s Health Improvement and Nutrition Education program — offers free health improvement and nutrition education for seniors living in New York state.

For more information about JCEO, visit www.jceo.org.

For more information about the North Country Healthy Heart Network, email amorgan@heartnetwork.org.