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Columbia City Council approves mobile market to address food disparities

Columbia City Council approves mobile market to address food disparities

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) – People living in certain areas throughout Richland County will soon have access to healthy foods due to a mobile market pilot program.

The program was just approved by Columbia City Council Members last week. It’s all a part of a city-wide initiative to address food disparities throughout the community. The mobile market will provide fresh foods from a local farm.

Tom Creek’s Farm is gearing up for its first mobile food market.

Inside their greenhouses, fresh fruits and vegetables can be found currently growing for distribution.

“We wanted to find a way to creatively offer some healthy options to the community and also work with a small business,” said Ayesha Driggers.

Ayesha Driggers is the Director of Business Opportunities for the City of Columbia. She says this initiative began with locating the areas facing food disparities. Those areas have been identified in the 29203 and 29204 area codes.

“We’ve had a lot of groceries stores close in those areas over the past few years,” said Driggers.

Those store closures left people in those areas without access to healthy foods.

“They’re going to upfit a trailer, that will have cooling stations, a refrigerator,” Driggers explained.

Driggers says the plan is to drive through communities in those zip codes stopping at local parks to sell the food. The mobile market will also offer a variety of meats and dairy products.

“We got started back in 2017,” said Ashley Page Bookhart.

Ashley Page Bookhart is a member of the Food Policy Committee. She says this initiative has been five years in the making.

“We went directly to the community, and we asked them you know if you could have a magic wand and you could make a change in the city what would you want to see, and we heard a lot of more access to healthy foods,” said Page Bookhart.

The market is set to open sometime in the Fall and run three days out of the week from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The Mobile Market will accept all forms of payments including SNAP and healthy bucks.

The Mobile Market will also outsource from other farms across South Carolina. Driggers says they have plans to expand the Mobile Market to different areas throughout Richland County.

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