The Mobile Market of Chattanooga, with its low-cost fruits, vegetables and food staples, acts as an oasis in the middle of Cleveland’s food deserts every Friday.
Lee McChesney, executive director of the Cleveland Family YMCA, said attempts had been made to bring the Chattanooga-based project to Cleveland. The opportunity was finally made possible through a number of community partnerships and sponsorship by First Baptist Church.
United Way of Bradley County and Impact Cleveland collaborated with the Cleveland YMCA to locate the best stops for the Mobile Market.
“The areas we are serving are what we call a food desert,” McChesney said. “There is not a grocery there. There is no place for them to get fresh fruit and vegetables. This Mobile Market
brings that to their neighborhood, in essence.”
The Mobile Market sets up shop every Friday at three locations:
- Blythe Family Support Center at 1075 Blythe Ave. S.E. from 10 a.m. to noon;
- Zion Enrichment Center at 254 Dooley St. N.E. from 4 to 6 p.m.; and
- Boys and Girls Clubs of Cleveland Powers Unit at 1204 Lay St. S.E. and Elrod Street from 4 to 6 p.m.
Items found in the trailer include fresh fruits and vegetables like apples, red grapefruit, lemons, oranges, red delicious apples, Granny Smith apples, sweet potatoes, cherries, lettuce, mangoes, bananas and peaches. Recent Fridays have also had Multi-Grain Cheerios, shredded wheat, Raisin Bran, peanut butter, jelly, canned vegetables, Campbell’s soup, prunes, rice, dried beans, almond milk, pasta sauce and tortilla chips on the shelves.
McChesney said the Mobile Market provides local residents with the opportunity and option to have fresh fruits and vegetables.
All of the items come from a farmer’s co-op in Chattanooga. The prices for the fruits and vegetables in the trailer are the same price paid by the Mobile Market for the food.
“There are some other basic staples there, too. There are eggs. There is cheese. There’s cereal. There’s some salad dressings and different things so they have easy access to healthier choices,” he said. “Hopefully that becomes a positive impact for them.”
The Mobile Market is being offered to Cleveland on a limited 10-week plan. Five weeks have already passed since the Mobile Market’s first day in Cleveland. McChesney explained the YMCA was pleasantly surprised at the first day’s total of 40 visits. He attributed the current success and growth to word-of-mouth communication.
The number of recorded visits will be used to write a grant to have a long-term Mobile Market in Cleveland.
Anyone interested in purchasing goods at the Mobile Market may do so at any of the three locations during the designated times. Cash, credit cards, debit cards and EBT (electronic benefit transfer, an electronic system for payment of government benefits) are accepted for payment. More information can be found on the Mobile Market by contacting the Cleveland Family YMCA at 476-5573.
“I haven’t gotten any negative feedback about (the Mobile Market),” McChesney said. “Everything I’ve gotten has been positive.”