Mobile Food Market gets ready to roll out winter service

Success of the program over the summer leads to expanded delivery for neighbourhoods lacking healthy grocery options.

Shoppers peruse the produce during the Mobile Food Market's pilot season this past summer. - SYDNEY MACLENNAN
Shoppers peruse the produce during the Mobile Food Market's pilot season this past summer.

Halifax’s Mobile Food Market—the city bus bringing affordable produce to communities with limited access to healthy food—is one step closer to providing year-round service.

On Thursday, the city’s Community Planning and Economic Development committee approved a proposal from staff for a 16-week winter mobile food program, as well as supports for a transition year program (running from June, 2017 to April, 2018) all towards a permanent Mobile Food Market.

The market began as a 21-week pilot program this year with the partnership of the Nova Scotia Health Authority, HRM, Partners for Care and the Ecology Action Centre. Running over the course of the summer, it serviced five communities across the city (including Spryfield, North Preston and Fairview). The program was later expanded to include the delivery of food boxes to five senior’s manors in the Gottingen Street area.

There were 2,000 customer interactions over the summer pilot, for a total of just under $24,000 in sales. According to a survey conducted by Public Health, about 75 percent of market customers consumed more fruits and vegetables because of the market, with 95 percent reporting the the market was a “fun and welcoming place” they would attend year-round.

Mobile Food Market coordinator Julia Kemp says winter is the most crucial time to run the program, and—if the winter program gets final approval from Regional Council—there will be changes to the service in accordance with the weather and the needs of the communities.

Kemp says in order to accommodate more customers, she hopes to run the program on some weekdays. The winter pilot will also include more drop-and-go food box locations, and stay-and-sell indoor markets in North Preston, north end Halifax and Fairview to keep produce from freezing.

The proposal will go up for final review in an upcoming Halifax Regional Council meeting. If approved, the winter pilot would run 16 weeks, from February to mid-June, 2017.

According to a 2012 report by PROOF (which researches food insecurity in Canada), one in five households in Halifax have difficulty accessing enough healthy food on a regular basis. That’s the highest out of the 33 studied metropolitan areas across the country.

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