Photo Credit: Urban Growers Collective
How This Black Organization Is Fighting Chicago's Food Insecurities On Wheels
Fighting food insecurity in the wealthiest country in the world is not an easy task, but one organization is doing its part to fight Chicago’s food insecurities.
Urban Growers Collective is managing the Fresh Moves Mobile Market, a program designed to provide healthy food to vulnerable people at low costs. UGC is a Black organization that fights against food insecurity in Chicago.
It is estimated that in America, roughly 42 million people are suffering considerable food hardship in 2021, according to food bank network Feeding America. The issue worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fresh Moves Mobile Market is a bus that has been converted into a mobile farmers’ market. The mobile food program works toward closing the ‘food access gap’ by bringing produce to schools, community centers, churches, and health clinics to make healthy food accessible in Black and Brown neighborhoods. Customers board the bus and shop for delicious local fruit, vegetables and grocery staples. The produce is affordable for all, and provides a fair return for the farmers and makers.
“We aim to address the inequities and structural racism that exists in the food system and in communities of color. Our approach is to build economic opportunity for urban farmers and ranchers, mitigate food insecurity, and increase access to high quality, affordable, and nutritionally-dense food on Chicago’s South and West Sides,” said UGC.
Purchasing out-of-season and out-of-climate options from Midwest Foods allows people to find most of the fresh ingredients they need. But many of the food products offered by the organization are grown at one of UGC’s eight farms or from participants in their Farmers for Chicago incubation program, which provides training for aspiring BIPOC growers.
“From sweet winter greens to juicy August tomatoes, find fresh, seasonal produce from Urban Growers Collective farms on the Fresh Moves bus all year round.”
According to UGC, the urgency to meet this goal of fighting Chicago’s food insecurities, has increased ten-fold due to the COVID-19 crisis.
“When the pandemic began, we worked quickly with partner organizations to activate an emergency food relief squad. Our squad directly supports BIPOC-led organizations that grow, process, prepare, and distribute high quality, nutritious meals and produce boxes to folks in need. Unlike other COVID-19 relief efforts, our Squad approach meets the immediate needs of communities while also creating opportunities for these BIPOC-led organizations to expand their operations.”
The bus stops at three locations per day, Monday through Friday. It spends about two hours at each site, filled with crates of peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, onions. Below is the Summer 2021 schedule:
The Fresh Moves Mobile Market also accepts Link Match double-value coupons and has been offering $10 vouchers throughout the pandemic, an option Sims hopes to extend through the end of the year.