Groceries in Transit

The Twin Cities Mobile Market takes fresh food on the go

Kristen Wangsness

Kristen Wangsness

2015 may not have the hover cars that Back to the Future predicted, but Dr. Emmet Brown himself probably never anticipated that in the future we would be able to grocery shop on a bus. The Twin Cities Mobile Market is an endeavor that has turned a retired metro transit bus into a single aisled grocery store. The space is limited but the fruit is fresh, the people are nice, and it moves faster than any other grocery store around.

A number of neighborhoods in the Twin Cities only have corner stores or gas stations as their closest food source, full of a limited array of unhealthy food items. The Mobile Market brings healthy foods at reasonable prices and grocery store quality freshness to these underserved communities.

The Mobile Market a program of the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation, a non-profit organization that is dedicated to providing a variety of community services such as mental health resources, education, housing, social adjustment, childhood, and aging programs, and now fresh groceries to those who need them most. The bus is staffed by a combination of paid workers and volunteers, and all of the food is from the same supplier as Cub Foods.

A variety of fresh fruits and vegetables are offered at the Mobile Market, including mangoes and pears, which aren’t even available at the Dinkytown Target Express. Also stocked are areas for lean meats, grains, dairy, and staple foods like rice, beans, canned goods and healthy cereals. The bus first began running in the middle of December, and expanded to its full route in January.

Since opening, the Mobile Market has experienced far greater a response than expected, with over 900 customers and enthusiasm from the communities it visits. Talks are in the works for a connection between the Mobile Market and local producers, with the hopes that more seasonal, local, fresher-than-grocery-store produce will soon be available on the bus, in addition to educational programs like recipe demos, cooking classes, and nutrition education.

The bus is in operation five days a week, routinely visiting eighteen different stops throughout Saint Paul. If you want to catch the bus, the stop schedule is available online on the Wilder Foundation website.