Council green lights mobile food markets

The City Council and Mayor Betsy Hodges lifted restrictions on mobile food markets today, allowing the vendors to sell fresh produce in parts of the city with limited access to healthy food.

“Mobile grocery stores will offer fresh, healthy food in an accessible and affordable way, especially in low-income neighborhoods,” Hodges said after the Council meeting. “Nutrition is an important part of equity for people of all ages and for the community.”

City Council Member Lisa Goodman, chair of the Community Development and Regulatory Services Committee, said the city’s business licensing team was approached by local entrepreneurs interested in launching a mobile food truck offering healthy foods. “This ordinance lets them fill a void,” she said.

The new regulations limit mobile grocery stores to parking lots of commercial, industrial or high-density residential buildings. They are prohibited from operating within 100 feet of a grocery store or farmers market unless they secure permission from the businesses.

The mobile food markets are also required to offer at least 50 items of fresh fruits and veggies in at least seven varieties.

Before today’s Council action, the mobile grocery stores were limited to selling pre-packaged foods near senior citizen high rises. 

Twin Cities Mobile Market, a program of the St. Paul-based Amherst Wilder Foundation, has converted a former Metro Transit bus into a mobile grocery store. It plans to bring healthy foods to low-income areas in St. Paul this summer. 

Leah Driscoll and her husband Mike are the entrepreneurs behind the market. They are crowdfunding the project to raise money to stock up the bus with healthy foods.