People living in parts of Kansas City that aren’t near a big grocery store now have another food option. But it’s not your typical grocery store, and it’s not run by your typical vendor.
Truman Medical Centers, Kansas City’s main safety net hospital, has launched a mobile market. The space itself is a refurbished city bus that will be making weekly stops, year round, at the following sites:
- The Jackson County Courthouse, 415 East 12th Street
- Lucile Bluford Branch of the Kansas City Public Library, 3050 Prospect Avenue
- Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City, Thornberry Unit, 43rd and Cleveland Avenue
- Hillcrest Community Center, 10401 Hillcrest Road
- Southeast Community Center, 4201 E. 63rd Street
The hospital worked with its in-house food distributor, Loffredo, to supply produce for the store. Along with selling food, the store will also provide occasional health screenings, cooking consultations and other health education resources.
Sharon Cleaver, with the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Kansas City, says having the bus come to a place like the Boys & Girls Club on 43rd Street fills an important gap.
“This is literally a food desert,” says Cleaver. “Across the street, it’s a hybrid between a liquor store and a snack store. I think having something like this, where basically they [residents] can walk out of their front door and buy fresh fruits and vegetables is invaluable.”
CiCi Rojas, head of community engagement at Truman, says food access isn’t the only issue. In fact, she says more food options have been sprouting up throughout the region, with the opening of community gardens and farmer's markets in recent years. Rojas says the mobile grocery store is as much about creating a more convenient option for people and tapping into a large consumer base.
“We identified $17 million that actually leaves about a mile-and-a-half radius of our hospital system,” says Rojas. “So those are dollars that are being spent outside of the footprint. So we know there is a need. People are driving to have a bigger selection of things that they want to purchase.”
The hospital is also now working to open a full-fledged grocery store a few blocks away from its main campus. Rojas says expect an announcement on that in the next 30 to 60 days.
The Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City, which also supports health reporting at KCUR, funded a large portion of the mobile grocery store initiative.
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