Back in 2010, the city of Toronto, Ontario, launched an innovative program which saw old, unused metro buses converted into mobile grocery stores. Dubbed Mobile Good Food Markets, these convenient markets-on-wheels have been travelling across the Greater Toronto Area selling affordable fresh food at people’s doorsteps, making healthy eating accessible to even the lowest earning neighbourhoods.
How They Got Started
Beginning as a collaboration between FoodShare Toronto, a non-profit organization dedicated to delivering healthy food and food education to all, and the city of Toronto and United Way Toronto, the idea to take old buses and convert them into mobile food markets was borne of a desire to see healthy food made accessible to everyone in the city.
Selling everything from kale and collards to apples and oranges, these buses make fresh, nutrient-dense food available to various neighbourhoods twice per week. And while the overhead costs of driving and servicing the buses prevent them from offering drastic discounts on food, prices are still lower than what you might typically see in conventional stores. More importantly, these markets allow families to buy fresh produce without having to make the often long trek to the grocery store.
Why This is So Great
This program represents far more than a mobile farmer’s market to many communities across the city, as it helps to fill a very real nutritional void for many areas of Toronto — areas which have become ‘food deserts,’ or neighbourhoods where grocery stores are either too costly for residents or too remote. In either case, families must often resort to buying unhealthy, processed foods, as these are not only affordable but available even in local convenience stores.
Many neighbourhoods in Toronto, particularly those with low income housing, are not adequately serviced by public transit, and their residents often don’t own cars, making any trip to the grocery store a real hassle, particularly for mothers caring for young children or elderly who are no longer as mobile as they once were. These food markets make choosing healthy food the easier option, offering affordable choices within reach.
Mobile Good Food Markets also address a disturbing trend in our society, in which health and well-being are relegated only to certain members of society. Fresh food should not be the privilege of the few; it is the right of all. By adulterating our food with cheap fillers and chemical additives, the food industry is able to profit from even the cheapest selling products, creating a false sense of value in the process. Everyone deserves access to nutritionally dense, whole foods, and the beautiful sense of community that imbues local farmer’s markets should be an experience available to everyone, not only those living in the most affluent neighbourhoods.
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