At A Glance
In 2015, Healthy Here’s Mobile Farmers’ Market (MFM), a farmers’ market on wheels, provided 659 residents of southeast Albuquerque, New Mexico, with fresh, affordable produce; free healthy food samples; and nutrition education. This effort is part of a community partnership that includes Presbyterian Healthcare Services, Bernalillo County Community Health Council, and Bernalillo County. MFM travels weekly to 6 locations in Albuquerque’s International District and South Valley areas. Already this year, produce sales have more than doubled.
Public Health Challenge
New Mexico has the second highest rate of food insecurity in the country, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The lack of fresh, healthy foods is most apparent in two of Albuquerque’s most populated areas: urban International District and rural South Valley. A drive through major streets in both communities reveals the abundance of fast food restaurants and convenience stores, but a scarcity of healthy food options like farmers’ markets and supermarkets. South Valley residents face the added problem of poor public transit. In food deserts like these, it’s not surprising to find high rates of diet-related diseases and obesity. Both communities have the highest mortality rates from heart disease and diabetes in Bernalillo County, as well as the highest rates of obesity among school-aged children and Native American, African American, and Hispanic/Latino residents.
The MFM program is impacting Albuquerque’s food deserts by providing fresh produce from farms in the South Valley and other local areas, along with nutrition education and healthy food samples prepared by a food truck partner. The program presents an innovative system where local farmers are paid full price for their produce and sponsors offer subsidies so that prices are maintained at wholesale rates. The project also encourages use of farmers’ markets in low-income areas; accepts electronic benefit transfer from Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – including the double-up food bucks program, Women, Infants and Children (WIC), and senior checks; and supports local farmer co-ops.