VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A fleet of mobile food markets in Hampton Roads is hoping to help tackle hunger in food deserts.
It’s called 757 Mobile Market and includes four food trucks that travel to neighborhoods with food insecurity.
The initiative was started by the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore back in June and is funded in part by the City of Virginia Beach Pandemic Relief Partnership, Obici Healthcare Foundation, and the CARES Act.
The City of Virginia Beach has one truck. The other will serve other localities including the Eastern Shore.
The Basilica of St. Mary’s of the Immaculate Conception will serve residents in the St. Paul’s community in Norfolk.
But currently, The Mount church operates one in Virginia Beach to help those living in the Bayside and Lake Edward Community.
“The food bank reached out to us. They had some ideas and visions about this area because it’s been deemed a food desert. We felt it was God letting us know our purpose in this area,” said Pastor Terron Rodgers with the Mount. “First of all, we’re supposed to be feeding spiritual food but to know we’re in the middle of a food desert we realized this was our purpose and meals were being put on the table.”
Rodgers says their market has been opened in different communities four times.
“We’re going to start taking it out more often. Every time we’ve taken it out we’ve blessed people,” he said.
The mobile market can carry up to 20,000 pounds of food and feed up to 350 families each trip.
Rodgers says he loves being out in the community with the truck because of the help it provides.
“It’s incredible because as a pastor, this job is all they see is Sunday morning. For me, it’s fulfilling to see people’s needs getting met, the smiles on their faces, and you would not believe the amount of people who have come to us just in the nick of time. We’re the answer to somebody’s prayer. To me, it’ see God being glorified and people are being served in our community,” he said.
The mobile markets were also set up to help get rid of the hurdle of transportation for people living in food deserts.
Resident Dwight Williams was surprised to see the market parked outside his The Hamptons Apartment complex in Virginia Beach.
He was just returning from trying to get his vehicle fixed and says he knows how hard getting to the grocery store can be for some.
“Without a vehicle, it’s hard to get groceries because you have to call an Uber or taxi or just walk,” Williams said.
Williams hopes to see more of the trucks around.
“Honestly, I love this. I’m surprised. I think you should keep this work going. I would love for this to come around more. Even if you have to pay for it. Have a grocery store close by? That’s kind of cool,” he said.
Rodgers says The Mount, which has nine locations, also helps distribute food other than the mobile market.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays, they have their full course food source at 620 Baker Road from 10 am to 2 pm.
Every fourth Saturday, Rodgers says they feed about 300 families at their church from 10 am to 2 pm.
“We at the Mount Global Fellowship of Churches under the leadership of Bishop Kim W. Brown and Elder Valerie K. Brown believe that churches are supposed to change lives. This is one way we believe we’re changing lives in this area. It’s important to me to not only feed people with their needs being met but we’re also spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If we can do that and feed people at the same time, that’s win/win,” Rodgers said.
If you’d like to donate money or food to the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia, you can do so through the 25th annual Mayflower Marathon Food Drive. The event kicks off tomorrow. For more information and drop-off locations, click here.