One in ten Ottawa households experience some level of food insecurity (CCHS, 2011/2012). Food insecurity, defined as inadequate or insecure access to food because of financial constraints, continues to persist in Ottawa. Residents relying on social assistance, pensions or low wages often struggle to cover the costs of their basic needs, including food. The MarketMobile makes it easy for residents to access healthy, affordable food with dignity. By creating a
community gathering space where neighbours meet and support one another, the MarketMobile provides the opportunity for communities to engage in positive change within their neighbourhoods and serves as a catalyst for community empowerment and neighbourhood transformation.
The MarketMobile is a not-for-profit mobile grocery store which operates out of a retro-fit trailer and truck which brings fresh, affordable, and culturally-appropriate vegetables and fruit to eight Ottawa neighbourhoods that have limited access to healthy food. In 2014 the MarketMobile operated a 21 week pilot project, which used a chartered city bus to bring fresh produce to four Ottawa communities, one day per week. In 2015 the MarketMobile was the winner of the Community Foundation of Ottawa’s New Leaf Community Challenge. This $125,000 grant allowed for the MarketMobile to purchase its current infrastructure, expand operations to two days per week and add four additional Ottawa communities. Currently, the MarketMobile covers all operating costs through self-generated revenue. The MarketMobile will continue to pursue further revenue generating opportunities, while not losing sight of its social mandate to provide healthy, affordable and culturally appropriate food to Ottawa residents. Project Officer Shannon Szkurhan explains that aside from the improved access to healthy foods, the Mobile has also increased dialogue about food security issues amongst communities, instigated opportunities for collective healthy cooking, and built connections amongst community members.