business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

CBS News has a story about how two recent graduates of the Colorado School of Public Health decided how best to out their degrees to work - they retrofitted a bus and turned it into a mobile farmers market.

According to the story, Steve Lockhart and Ashleigh Ruehrdanz “identified several underserved neighborhoods,” and laid out an initial plan for serving them and getting out the word, looking to provide both access to food and some measure of education of residents of food deserts.

“The nonprofit has received funding through various city incubators but the funding isn’t permanent,” the story says. Ashleigh and Steve will have to find other avenues to get ahead of the growing problem.

Lockhart says, ““Our dream would be to have a bus like this in every neighborhood that has this need.”

Now, I know this is not an entirely unique proposition. There are a number of cities where such efforts have been tried, including Portland, Oregon.

I have to wonder, though, if this is the kind of thing that more traditional retailers ought to be embracing as a way of extending their footprints and brand messages. Sometimes they get criticized for not putting stores in food deserts - that’s how they became food deserts - but they could solve that problem to some degree by teaming up with these public health advocates and entrepreneurs.

There are a lot of supermarket chains in Denver … and I cannot imagine it would cost very much to invest in a food bus. And then, they could use the experience to figure out ways to move beyond farmers market-style products, and maybe provide a greater selection to folks in these neighborhoods.

It could be an Eye-Opener.
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