The Power of Twin Cities Mobile Market Volunteers
Volunteers like Sheila Wood and Harrison Pack make the wheels go round at the Twin Cities Mobile Market.
Sheila (pictured) and Harrison are both long-time volunteers at the Mobile Market, a Wilder program that brings a bus with affordable, fresh foods to Saint Paul and Minneapolis neighborhoods that lack access to grocery stores. They bag groceries, assist customers and help staff wherever they’re needed. “I am that little bit of oil that makes the staff's job easier, which make the customers' experience better,” Sheila says. “We all need that little bit of support.”
To Mobile Market driver Keshawn Williams, that “little bit of support” is central to the Mobile Market’s operations. “There would not be a Twin Cities Mobile Market without our volunteers,” she says. “Volunteers are the reason we are able to serve our clients, whether they’re bagging and carrying groceries or stocking the warehouse.”
Commitment to Providing Food for Everyone
Sheila and Harrison both say they are drawn to the Mobile Market’s work because they believe that everyone should have access to healthy food. “I volunteer because this work fights back against food deserts,” Harrison says. “In addition, I understand the impact this program has for people in the community.”
The Mobile Market has scheduled stops in Saint Paul, Minneapolis and other areas of the Twin Cities that don’t have easy access to grocery stores. Customers who lack transportation or have a hard time getting to grocery stores for other reasons rely on the bus for access to fresh foods. And staff, volunteers and customers all enjoy the friendly atmosphere and opportunity to connect with one another.
“The Mobile Market provides an opportunity to meet people I might not get to meet otherwise,” Sheila says. "It means connecting to the larger community and getting outside of myself.”
Volunteers Are Key Members of the Mobile Market Team
The combination of passion for food access and desire for community connection – and the help that volunteers provide – means that volunteers are key members of the Mobile Market team.
“The saying is true: Many hands make light work,” says Mobile Market Director Leah Porter. “We couldn't meet our goal of providing access to healthy, affordable food without the critical support of our volunteers!”
After five years as a program of Wilder, the Twin Cities Mobile Market is now part of The Food Group.