Mobile Marketplace launches to bring affordable groceries to underserved areas

Feeding Southwest Virginia debuted its new initiative in Craig County

A church parking lot turned into a grocery store on Wednesday, as the work to feed those in need goes mobile.

NEW CASTLE, Va. – A church parking lot turned into a grocery store on Wednesday, as the work to feed those in need goes mobile.

“Do they spend money on transportation or medicine or food?” said Pamela Irvine, president and CEO of Feeding Southwest Virginia.

The food bank is trying to make those tough decisions a little easier with its newest program, the Mobile Marketplace.

We are #excited to announce the #official launch of our Mobile Marketplace in Craig County, Virginia ! In addition to...

Posted by Feeding Southwest Virginia on Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Two trucks stocked with groceries will head out to already-established food distribution sites and set up markets, focusing on underserved, rural areas where there are not many grocery stores.

“Of course, in a small town like this, there’s definitely limited access to public transportation,” said Sheldon Cosma, the senior minister at New Castle Christian Church. “We’re not far from the Roanoke community, but far enough that you’re traversing over mountains and stuff to get there.”

It’s not only about access, but affordability. The Mobile Marketplace offers all kinds of food at discounted, very reasonable prices that are often difficult to find in stores.

“Unemployment numbers are high. Food insecurity in this community is high and will continue to be,” said Irvine.

The pandemic has only made that problem worse.

The areas most in need, according to Feeding Southwest Virginia are Alleghany, Bland, Craig, Carroll, Pittsylvania, Wythe and Wise counties.

Now, SNAP recipients in those areas will have another option that’s a little closer to home.

“It’s very important for the community here because it provides accessibility,” Cosma said.

Two Mobile Marketplaces are planned for April and you can click here to see the schedule, which will be updated regularly.

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