Mobile markets, co-op food sites on the rise as inflation and grocery prices soar

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(NEW YORK) — As Americans continue to experience sticker shock at the grocery store, some organizations are offering new solutions to help ease the burden.

At-home prices for food will increase between 5% and 6% this year, the United States Department of Agriculture predicted in its 2022 food outlook report.

One Minnesota-based nonprofit, The Food Group, is working to provide nutritious, high-quality, low-priced groceries across the state in over 30 counties, including neighboring Wisconsin, to help over 50,000 households.

The Food Group executive director Sophia Lenarz-Coy explained to ABC News’ Good Morning America that opposed to fixed costs like medical expenses or rent, “food is the flex.”

“For folks on limited incomes, inflation makes it so you have to cut back somewhere,” she said.

The Food Group operates co-op style with bulk purchasing, so the more a customer buys the cheaper it costs.

They operate 32 “Fare for All” pop-up sites that focus on rural and suburban communities and a Twin Cities Mobile Market that delivers food directly to urban neighborhoods weekly.

“With inflation, it’s just crazy, people who haven’t had to focus on grocery prices are coming up to me and saying, ‘I am noticing these crazy jumps at the grocery store just to buy what I normally buy,'” Lenarz-Coy said.

The Food Group program is open to everyone, no registration required, and she said participation has almost doubled since January.

“The grocery stores are getting to be so outrageous,” said Kathy Testa, a St. Paul resident and Twin Cities Mobile Market customer.

Terrell Hadley, who also shops from the Twin Cities Mobile Market, added, “This makes it easier to hold on to the finances at the end of every month. I think it’s the greatest thing going on right now.”

According to the Veggie Van Training Center, a nonprofit that supports local and regional food systems help start, expand and improve mobile produce market programs, mobile markets like The Food Group are on the rise.

The Veggie Van Training Center was recently awarded a USDA grant to expand their training center and coalition.

“This really is an effort to harness resources, networking, and really try to advocate for sustained funding and policy support at all levels,” Leah Vermont, assistant director of Veggie Van’s partnerships, told GMA.

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