Bridging the gap between food access and affordability is St. Louis MetroMarket, the mobile grocery store that plans to restore St. Louis food security by providing neighborhoods access to fresh, healthy foods in concert with food demonstrations and other educational opportunities.
Leading this enterprise are co-founders Jeremy Goss, Colin Dowling, and Tej Azad.
As a medical student at Saint Louis University, Goss became frustrated with the lack of access to fresh foods for St. Louisans living in food deserts, neighborhoods where healthy food is difficult to obtain.
“Entering med school, I got to see people who couldn’t comply with the lifestyle modifications that we asked of them,” says Goss. “Part of the conversation that usually doesn’t happen is whether or not they were eating properly, something many could not do. If I give you a prescription for something you can’t afford, it doesn’t do you any good.”
In 2012, Goss connected with Washington University alums Dowling and Azad. Together, they formed the foundation for St. Louis MetroMarket. Based on the same model as City Greens Market in The Grove, their concept aims to eliminate the region's 15 identified food deserts.
Since its inception, MetroMarket has received national attention, winning the Clinton Global Initiative University Commitment–Maker award in 2013.
“We got to do a press conference with Chelsea Clinton," says Goss. "Ever since, we’ve been working diligently on perfecting this model.”
Using a restored metro bus, MetroMarket will launch in the JeffVanderLou neighborhood on July 11. In addition to selling fresh produce, meats, and other stable goods, the market will host food demos and classes about meal preparation and nutrition.
“Many people are hesitant to try foods that they are not familiar with," says Goss. "This is our opportunity to introduce items that may seem unfamiliar, but are very good for you."
With the support of SLU, Wash. U., Hosco Foods, and other sponsors, MetroMarket hopes to serve as a long-term solution for impoverished St. Louis neighborhoods. “The first time I ever heard the term 'food desert,' it was the first time anyone made me aware there were communities without grocery stores. It frustrated me, and I carried that frustration here to St. Louis. Luckily, I met up with two other people who were willing to work to solve the same problem.”
To learn more about St. Louis Metro Market, visit stlmetromarket.com.
Visit SLM's Health blog tomorrow to learn about Goss’ 30-day SNAP challenge.