FoodShare Mobile Good Food Market

Toronto, Ontario

A TTC Wheel-Trans bus transformed into a mobile produce market promotes healthy nutrition, social engagement, and economic wellbeing in isolated communities, demonstrating how we can use architecture in imaginative ways to make our city a better place to live in.

 

FoodShare Mobile Good Food Market was commissioned jointly by Toronto Public Health, FoodShare Toronto, United Way Toronto and CAMH’s Food Policy Research Initiative. We collaborated with expert truck retrofitters to convert a donated bus into an accessible, traveling market. The bus delivers fresh, affordable, healthy, and culturally appropriate fruit and vegetables to neighbourhoods that are distant from food retailers. 

Once parked, the original Wheel-Trans ramp provides access to people of all abilities. A lightweight, aluminum panel lifts off the side of the bus to create an awning, and exterior aluminum shelves on hinges fold out of the bus to sit underneath the awning. Community leaders who staff the market can easily and efficiently set up and strike the shelving, enabling them to move the market to its numerous locations throughout the day. Produce-filled bins line the shelves inside and out, drawing attention to the diverse selection of lush fruits and vegetables, rather than the bus itself. We selected aluminum for its easy to clean, non-corrosive, rust-resistant qualities, and plastic bins so that they can be easily removed for cleaning and restocking. The interior, which houses additional shelving and the checkout counter, is large enough to accommodate a group of shoppers, ensuring the market can operate year-round, despite Canada’s extreme weather. 

The Mobile Good Food Market route strategically targets underprivileged neighbourhoods where people do not have easy access to grocery stores. It increases food literacy by selling both local and imported produce, including the specialty items desired by Toronto’s culturally diverse immigrant communities. Three months into the project, customer surveys indicated that the truck had changed the communities it serves, with 52 per cent of residents eating more fruits and vegetables, and 37 per cent feeling significantly healthier.

The FoodShare Mobile Good Food Market sparked similar initiatives around the world. Consequently we have shared our plans and experience with other organizations seeking to transform vehicles to mobile units that support community resilience and development.

Media

WebUrbanist (February 2017) – Urban Transformer: Bus Unfolds into Mobile Fresh Food Market
Spacing – (December 2013) FoodShare’s new food trucks aim to give grocery stores food for thought
Globe and Mail – (July 2014) Food truck with a difference: Converted bus brings fresh produce to low-income neighbourhoods