The second annual Mobile Market Summit will be held at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB on Tuesday, March 24 and Wednesday, March 25. In 2019, the summit, which was also attended by UB researchers and students, was touted as “the nation’s first-ever gathering of mobile produce market representatives.”
During the summit, mobile produce market operators from across the U.S. will convene upon Buffalo, to learn about best practice ways to grow their businesses, while learning from other operators about their own experiences. Operators, and potential operators, also get a chance to learn about funding opportunities.
Last year, around 100 operators attended the event, making the inaugural gathering a success. This year, organizers will be capitalizing upon that initial success.
There are two keynote speakers this year:
- Sean C. Lucan, MD, MPH, associate professor of family and social medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, who will be discussing healthy food options. His talk on March 24 is open to UB students, faculty and staff courtesy of funding from UB’s Center for Ingestive Behavior Research.
- Devita Davison, executive director of FoodLab Detroit (a community of food entrepreneurs devoted to health and sustainability), will be discussing injustices in the food system. Davison’s talk on March 25, which is free and open to the public thanks to funding from the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, Inc., will discuss the relationship between food access and social justice.
The speakers will detail ways that we can bring healthier food options to all neighborhoods, including those designated as food deserts. There will also be messages discussing the importance of boosting the sustainable food economy, with a concentration on supporting local operators.
Registration for the Mobile Market Summit is available on the Mobile Market Summit website.
“Mobile markets are becoming an increasingly popular solution to food access challenges in many communities. I helped start a mobile market when there weren’t many other models to follow and understand how challenging it can be to start what is basically a small business from scratch,” said summit organizer Lucia Leone, PhD, assistant professor of community health and health behavior in UB’s School of Public Health and Health Professions.
“I think that being able to learn and be supported by others who are dealing with the same challenges really helps improve the likelihood of success,” added Leone, who also runs the Veggie Van study. According to UB, the study is funded in part by a five-year, $3.1 million grant from the National Cancer Institute. The objective is to partner with nine organizations – to establish or expand mobile markets across four states over the next few years, in order to then conduct studies that will demonstrate the need for these types of mobile healthy food sources. Altogether, 32 community sites will be impacted.
“We’ve heard from a lot of people across the country who are interested in starting mobile produce markets,” said Anne Lally, who joined UB in January as outreach coordinator for the Veggie Van study.
The summit is being organized by UB researchers in partnership with Megan Huang, fresh truck program director for About Fresh; Elyse Guidas, executive director of Discovery Triangle Development Corporation/Farm Express; and Frederic Laforge, co-founder of TheFarmersTruck.com.
Support for the summit is being provided by several sponsor organizations, including: Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture, Alexandria, Virginia; UB Center for Ingestive Behavior Research; Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus; Project Best Life, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center; and About Fresh, Boston, Massachusetts.
Lead image courtesy My Veggie Van