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Tempe brings in mobile food market to fill grocery store gap

Posted at 6:49 PM, Mar 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-08 20:49:05-05

TEMPE, AZ — Apples, potatoes, carrots on a bus. This new shopping concept to help residents in Tempe get better access to fresh fruits and vegetables, following the 2021 closure of the Food City on Apache Boulevard.

Grocery shopping for Phil Amorosi may look a little different than his usual routine.

He says, “I’m the chair of the neighborhood association across the street. When I found out that Food City was closing, I realized that so many people here just have bicycles, they don’t have cars. They need a close by shopping center.”

After Food City closed, Amarosi contacted Tempe Mayor Corey Woods, fearing they would be in a food desert.

Mayor Woods heard Amarosi and other residents on Apache Boulevard. The solution is a mobile farmers market on wheels called Farm Express.

Elyse Guidas, Executive Director for Activate Food Arizona says, “We travel around to communities that don’t have easy access to grocery stores or fresh produce.”

Mayor Woods attended Tuesday's event in front of the old Food City.

“At the end of last year, the City of Tempe purchased the center we're standing at right now for $10.6 million,” says Woods.

“We learned in late September of 2021, that the Food City was going to be closing. And many of the residents in the area on the North and South side of Apache Boulevard, some of our long standing neighborhoods and some of the folks who've just moved in recently talked about their concern about living in a food desert without the presence of a grocery store.”

Every other Tuesday from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., regionally sourced, accessible fruits and vegetables are offered at cost.

“Those who use SNAP Benefits, we have a program called double up food bucks for every dollar that they spend on the bus, they get another dollar to redeem on additional fruits and vegetables,” Guidas says.

Amarosi is pleased his city stepped up for this temporary aide.

“At least the city is coming forward and doing something,” Amarosi said.

Looking ahead, Mayor Woods tells ABC15 there are plans in the works to build a new grocery store and 300 units of affordable housing.