Photo Gallery | Mobile market to hit the streets for Memphis ‘food deserts’
The organizations' name is as literal as it gets —the Memphis Mobile Market.
With a group of volunteers and a truck, a market on wheels will drive around areas in Raleigh and Frayser delivering fresh produce to Memphis residents who have a hard time getting to a grocery store.
Aniket Rali is a medical student at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. He knows first-hand from talking to people in this area, that they were aware of healthy eating, and exercising. The problem is that it just isn't feasible for some Memphis communities to eat healthy.
"It was not practical. From peak of interest, and research on the concept of food, there are patches of neighborhoods in metropolises that did not access this food. It's not convenient to get this fresh food, as there aren't full groceries," said Rali who is also the executive director for the Memphis Mobile Market. "So we started looking at ways to increase access."
According to Rail, corporate grocery stores such as Walmart or a Kroger would not make enough profit to last in poor communities. He said this is a national issue, but work needed to be done locally.
That is why the mobile market model appealed to Rali and his co-founders. Nashville has a successful mobile market that has been running for three years.
Rali clarified that the Memphis Mobile Market is not a food bank. It is a functioning market where food will be sold. But as a non-profit organization, their goal is to provide the best produce at the lowest price possible. In addition, the market will take EBT as a form of payment.
"If we want to deliver a promise, that will have a significant impact on the community, we decided that we sell unique features," said Rali as he explained that the market's focus is to get healthy food to people who cannot get to a grocery store.
"Now the community will have the opportunity to buy something healthy. The mobile unit saves the commute, and they will never have to pay the expense of getting to the grocery. Single parents won't have to hire a babysitter to take care of their kids," he said.
Almost half of the funds have been raised to get the Memphis Mobile Market on the road.
About $20,000 has been raised by private businesses and individuals in the Mid-South and Tennessee. In order to buy the truck and make the model operational, Rali said they will need to raise $45,000.
"We hope to get there in two months' time. We still need that money for us fall into place," he said.
Rali along with others from the organization are currently reaching out to the city, the council, and the state for financial help.
Until then, routes are being worked on for the mobile market. Rali and his co-founders have done endless studying and surveys for this project to be a success. Eventually, Rali hopes to recruit more volunteers and have a full-time executive director, who will have the only paid position in the organization.
More than anything, Rali said he can hardly wait to hit the pavement and help people obtain healthy food.
"We're very passionate, this allows us medical students to go out and serve community," said Rali.
You can get the latest on the Memphis Mobile Market by following them on Facebook here.