Supporting food access and the local farm economy
Visit www.arcadiamobilemarket.org for more information
Arcadia launched its Mobile Market in 2012, as a rolling farm stand stocked with locally, sustainably grown foods including fruits and vegetables, herbs, pastured eggs, grass-fed and pastured beef, pork, organic milk, cheese, handmade bread and honey.
The Mobile Market has sold more than $1.4 million in affordably priced, high-quality local fresh food in under-resourced neighborhoods in Washington, D.C. since 2012. The significance of this figure is not just the sales but what it represents: the growing and barely scratched surface of the demand for fresh healthy food in resource-constrained neighborhoods that suffer a disproportionate rate of chronic diseases that correlate strongly to the food to which these neighborhoods do -- and do not -- have regular access.
The Mobile Market makes regular weekly stops in low-food access neighborhoods and accepts and doubles the face value of food stamps (SNAP, WIC, and Senior FMNP). The neighborhoods we serve typically have high SNAP usage, low car ownership, and are at least a mile from a grocery store that can support a healthy diet.
In testament to the success of the model, SNAP customers have increased the amount of food they take home from an average of $8 per transaction in 2012 to $20 per transaction in 2019. In 2020, during the pandemic markets, the average SNAP sale value was nearly $50 per transaction. Our sales have increased by almost 500 percent over six seasons with almost no marketing budget – just customer word of mouth.
The Mobile Market is not just about food access. It also supports the local farm economy. Arcadia grows much of the food on the Mobile Market but we also purchase food at wholesale prices from other farmers to resell. This diversifies their businesses and gives them new customers in a market at no risk that they would not otherwise reach. The Mobile Market represents more than $1 million in wholesale revenue for local farms.
The remarkable effectiveness of the Mobile Market is attributable to our high quality food, excellent customer service, affordable prices, and locations that are convenient to people with limited incomes.
Equally important, strong sales at the Mobile Market demonstrate the growing and unmet demand for healthy food in low-income neighborhoods. Year over year increases in sales subvert the pernicious idea that low-income people don’t support healthy food retail. We have demonstrated every year since 2012 that if the food is high quality, conveniently available, and affordable, customers will flock to it regardless of income.