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Mobile markets

Health Factors: Diet & Exercise
Decision Makers: Educators Employers & Businesses Local Government State Government Grantmakers Nonprofit Leaders
Evidence Rating: Expert Opinion
Population Reach: 10-19% of WI's population
Impact on Disparities: Likely to decrease disparities

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Mobile markets, mobile farmers markets, or fresh food carts travel to multiple neighborhoods to sell fresh fruits and vegetables, operating on a set schedule so residents know when they can shop. Mobile markets can be created from buses, trucks, vans, carts, or any other vehicle with space to display produce. Mobile markets often travel to areas without easy access to supermarkets or grocery stores (i.e., food deserts). 

Expected Beneficial Outcomes

Increased access to fruits & vegetables
Increased healthy foods in food deserts
Increased fruit & vegetable consumption
Increased food security

Evidence of Effectiveness

Mobile markets are a suggested strategy to increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables in low income neighborhoods and food deserts, and near schools (Widener 2012, Widener 2013, CDC MMWR-Khan 2009, Algert 2006, Tester 2012), as well as to increase fruit and vegetable consumption (CDC-Fruits and vegetables 2011, CDC MMWR-Khan 2009). Increasing access to fresh fruits and vegetables has been associated with increased purchases and consumption of fresh produce (Widener 2013, Wrigley 2002, Larsen 2009a). Focus groups examining four mobile markets suggest greater fruit and vegetable consumption among market shoppers than non-shoppers (Zepeda 2014a). However, additional evidence is needed to confirm effects.

Mobile markets that accept payments from SNAP and WIC nutrition assistance programs can have greater effects on access to fresh produce than markets that do not (The Network-Mobile vending). Locating mobile markets in neighborhoods with high concentrations of food insecure households may reduce food insecurity (Widener 2012, Algert 2006). Nutritional education, advertising and promotion, extended hours of operation, and variety of products may maximize mobile markets’ effects (Zepeda 2014a).

A system of mobile markets can be established relatively quickly and at low cost, especially in urban areas (Widener 2012). In some cases, however, incentives may be needed to encourage mobile markets to operate in food deserts (Li 2014).


United States

Mobile markets are currently in use in many cities across the country, including Baltimore, MD (Real food-Mobile market); Buffalo, NY (MAP-Mobile market); Chattanooga, TN (Chattanooga mobile); Washington, DC (Arcadia-Mobile market); Hastings, FL (Farm to Family-Mobile); Adrian, MI (PBH-Veggie mobile); Hartford, CT (HFS-Mobile market); Philadelphia, PA (Greensgrow-GFMM); and Contra Costa County, CA (Fresh Approach-Mobile market).

Mobile markets are also being used to bring fresh fruits and vegetables to Native American reservations in Ashland county, Wisconsin (Wojciechowski 2010), and to rural areas in the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon and Washington (GGFN-Mobile market), and in Appalachian East Tennessee (Rural resources).

Implementation Resources

CDC-HFR 2014 - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity. Healthier food retail (HFR): An action guide for public health practitioners. 2014. Accessed on February 22, 2018
ChangeLab-Mobile food vending - ChangeLab Solutions. Mobile food vending. Accessed on December 14, 2015
LHC-Rockeymoore 2014 - Rockeymoore M, Moscetti C, Fountain A. Rural Childhood Obesity Prevention Toolkit. Leadership for Healthy Communities (LHC), Center for Global Policy Solutions, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. 2014. Accessed on February 22, 2018
PAS-Zoning 2016 - Planning Advisory Service (PAS). Planning & zoning for health in the built environment. American Planning Association (APA). 2016. Accessed on February 27, 2018
SRTSNP-Safe routes to healthy foods - Safe Routes to School National Partnership (SRTSNP). Healthy communities: Safe routes to healthy foods. Accessed on May 17, 2018
The Network-Mobile vending - The Network for Public Health Law (The Network). Food trucks and fruit carts: How mobile vending can create greater access to healthy foods. Accessed on November 10, 2015

Citations - Evidence

Algert 2006* - Algert SJ, Agrawal A, Lewis DS. Disparities in access to fresh produce in low-income neighborhoods in Los Angeles. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2006;30(5):365–70. Accessed on November 25, 2015
CDC MMWR-Khan 2009 - Khan LK, Sobush K, Keener D, et al. Recommended community strategies and measurements to prevent obesity in the United States. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). 2009;58(RR-07):1-26. Accessed on May 10, 2017
CDC-Fruits and vegetables 2011 - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Strategies to prevent obesity and other chronic diseases: The CDC guide to strategies to increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables. Atlanta: US Department of Health and Human Services (US DHHS); 2011. Accessed on February 16, 2018
Larsen 2009a* - Larsen K, Gilliland J. A farmers’ market in a food desert: Evaluating impacts on the price and availability of healthy food. Health and Place. 2009;15(4):1158–1162. Accessed on February 22, 2018
Li 2014 - Li KY, Cromley EK, Fox AM, Horowitz CR. Evaluation of the placement of mobile fruit and vegetable vendors to alleviate food deserts in New York City. Preventing Chronic Disease. 2014;11:140086. Accessed on March 8, 2016
Tester 2012 - Tester JM, Yen IH, Laraia B. Using mobile fruit vendors to increase access to fresh fruit and vegetables for schoolchildren. Preventing Chronic Disease. 2012;9. Accessed on December 30, 2015
The Network-Mobile vending - The Network for Public Health Law (The Network). Food trucks and fruit carts: How mobile vending can create greater access to healthy foods. Accessed on November 10, 2015
Widener 2012* - Widener MJ, Metcalf SS, Bar-Yam Y. Developing a mobile produce distribution system for low-income urban residents in food deserts. Journal of Urban Health. 2012;89(5):733–45. Accessed on November 23, 2015
Widener 2013* - Widener MJ, Metcalf SS, Bar-Yam Y. Agent-based modeling of policies to improve urban food access for low-income populations. Applied Geography. 2013;40:1–10. Accessed on November 9, 2015
Wrigley 2002* - Wrigley N, Warm D, Margetts B, Whelan A. Assessing the impact of improved retail access on diet access on diet in a 'food desert': A preliminary report. Urban Studies. 2002;39(11):2061–82. Accessed on November 23, 2015
Zepeda 2014a* - Zepeda L, Reznickova A, Lohr L. Overcoming challenges to effectiveness of mobile markets in US food deserts. Appetite. 2014;72:58-67. Accessed on March 8, 2016

Citations - Implementation

Arcadia-Mobile market - Arcadia. Mobile market. Accessed on December 1, 2015
Chattanooga mobile - Chattanooga Mobile Market. Fresh food for all. Accessed on March 3, 2016
Farm to Family-Mobile - Farm to Family Florida, Pie in the Sky. Produce to the people. Accessed on March 9, 2016
Fresh Approach-Mobile market - Fresh Approach. Freshest Cargo: Mobile farmers' market. Accessed on March 8, 2016
GGFN-Mobile market - Gorge Grown Food Network (GGFN). Farmers’ market network uses mobile market trucks to support markets. Accessed on February 22, 2018
Greensgrow-GFMM - Greensgrow. Greensgrow Farms Mobile Markets (GFMM). Accessed on March 8, 2016
HFS-Mobile market - Hartford Food System (HFS). Hartford Mobile Market. Accessed on March 8, 2016
MAP-Mobile market - Massachusetts Avenue Project (MAP) & Growing Green. Mobile market. Accessed on February 5, 2016
PBH-Veggie mobile - ProMedica Bixby Hospital (PBH), Lenawee Health Network. Veggie Mobile: A rolling farmers’ market for Lenawee County residents. Accessed on March 8, 2016
Real food-Mobile market - Real Food Farm. Mobile farmers market. Accessed on March 8, 2016
Rural resources - Rural Resources. Connecting farms, food & families. Accessed on November 19, 2015
Wojciechowski 2010 - Wojciechowski T. FEAST farmer’s market promotion project: Final report. Ashland County: University of Wisconsin Extension; 2010. Accessed on March 9, 2016

Page Last Updated

October 20, 2015

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