The new Fresh Moves Mobile Market bus. Credit: Provided

HYDE PARK — A mobile farmers market will travel around South and West side neighborhoods offering fresh produce and other local goods starting next week, and shoppers will receive $10 in free groceries as organizers help address food insecurity in Chicago.

The Fresh Moves Mobile Market relaunches Monday and will visit 15 locations every week. Locations, dates and times are visible on the map below:


The mobile food bus will offer more than 40 types of fruits and vegetables grown at the Urban Growers Collective’s eight farms. Laurell Sims, co-founder of Urban Growers Collective, said they wanted to relaunch the market in June but hit delays because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Since they’re operating outside of the typical growing season, other local farmers and a wholesaler will fill in the gaps of produce being offered.

“Not all of the produce will be local in the winter, but we’ll keep the bus stocked every day of the week,” Sims said. “We’re partnering with organizations that are close to our farms … to offer the freshest, most local produce we can at reasonable prices,” she said.

Also available on the bus will be soaps, coffee, bread, beans, toilet paper, elderberry tinctures and chow-chow relish, many of which are made by Black- and women-operated companies.

The market is priced to be “competitive and below the market value” of South and West Side grocery stores, Sims said.

Need-based vouchers for $10 in free food and a free box of pasta from corporate sponsor Barilla will be given to a few dozen people at each location. Urban Growers Collective is working with partner organizations to identify 25-50 people to receive the vouchers at each stop every week.

Until at least May, the mobile market will participate in the Link Match program, which will match up to $20 in SNAP purchases. The program was pioneered by the Experimental Station in Woodlawn.

To fundraise for the mobile market and emergency food relief programs like the free vouchers, Barilla will hold a “cook-along” next Friday, Nov. 13. at 6 p.m.

Chefs Erick Williams, of Virtue Restaurant in Hyde Park, and Nyesha Arrington of “Top Chef” fame will lead attendees in cooking orecchiette and penne pasta salad. The Red Clay Dance Company will perform and the night will be soundtracked by artist and educator avery r. young.

All funds raised will go to the collective and Barilla will match up to $25,000 in donations. Click here to register for the cook-along.

“It’s the easy work to be the partner,” said Prita Wadhwani, head of corporate and brands communications for Barilla America. “Urban Growers Collective does all the heavy lifting and the hard day-to-day work, and we’re very happy to be a part of that.”

Free food programs are “not something [the collective] had initially fundraised for this year,” Sims said. “Having a partnership like this — and having folks invest in this work — means we can impact so many more households with nutritious foods.”

Urban Growers Collective is a partner on the Always Growing Auburn Gresham project, which received $12 million in charitable and state funding in August to build a South Side urban farm and renewable energy campus.

Once completed, the project will allow the collective to grow more food for its initiatives such as the mobile market, Sims said. Participants in the collective’s programs will also be able to earn living wages in permanent jobs.

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