Simplified: A mobile grocery store is ready to hit the road next week, bringing fresh produce and affordable food to areas of town where groceries aren't otherwise accessible. Here's a look at what's to come from the Eat Well Sioux Falls Mobile Market.

Why it matters

  • More than 24,000 people in Sioux Falls live more than one mile from a grocery store, according to a study released last summer by the Augustana Research Institute. That makes it hard, if not impossible, for people who don't have a car to access healthy food.
  • The Eat Well Sioux Falls Market is one piece of the puzzle in meeting that need, Sioux Falls Thrive President Michelle Erpenbach said. It isn't a handout or food giveaway, but rather a way for people to easily and affordably purchase healthy foods in neighborhoods where that otherwise isn't an option.
  • Groceries will be stocked onto a 30-foot trailer that's equipped with coolers, baskets, shelving. The vehicle also has Wi-Fi, a canopy to cover folks who may be waiting in line outside and handicap accessibility. And the types of food stocked will be in direct response to the needs of the people who shop there.
"We have a really good foundation for what people want, and it's fresh produce," Erpenbach said. "We're going to meet that need."

How will the mobile market work?

Eat Well Sioux Falls Manager Luke Senst is already working to source food from various vendors, and the mobile market will start making its first stops next week.

  • Locations and times will be posted on the Eat Well Sioux Falls website. The market will start its focus in the area of Cliff Avenue and Benson Road.

It'll function much like any other grocery store. Customers can walk into the trailer, select the items they'd like to purchase, pay and take them home.

  • One important difference, though, is a goal to offer items at a more affordable price point than customers would find at a typical store. That's possible because the market will be largely staffed by volunteers, and the lack of physical location means lower overhead costs overall, Senst said.
A glimpse of the inside of the mobile market before it's fully stocked.

The market will also need community support in order to be sustainable.

  • Sioux Falls Thrive received a $250,000 grant from the city this spring to support this new market, and an additional $150,000 is still available in the health department to support this work.
  • But it's going to take more than that, Erpenbach said, especially because the cost of the vehicle and other startup expenses are higher than estimated.

What happens next?

Erpenbach said she sees this trailer as a way to prove the concept that an affordable grocery store on wheels is not only needed, but also that it can work in Sioux Falls.

"This is just the first trailer," she said. "It is a scout for a new model for grocery stores in this community."

The trailer will start making its rounds on Tuesday. Find a schedule here.

How can I help?

There are a couple different ways to help:

  • Donate money. You can donate here and make sure to note the donation is for the Eat Well Mobile Market.
  • Donate time. The market will rely on volunteers to operate. Fill out this form and someone from Sioux Falls Thrive or the Eat Well Mobile Market will get back to you, Erpenbach said.