Guest Blog: Mobile Markets distribute food, foster community

Jason and family Jason Pfister has been a member of Inter-Faith Food Shuttle’s Board of Directors for almost three years. He is a commercial real estate attorney at Nexsen Pruet PLLC who lives in Raleigh with his wife and three children. Learn more about Jason here.

On an April Saturday morning I had the pleasure of volunteering at the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle’s Mobile Market, held at Martin Street Baptist Church in southeast Raleigh. I was accompanied by some fellow Board members, IFFS staff, as well as my son Cameron and his twin sister Lilly. Our family has volunteered for the Food Shuttle numerous times in other capacities, including sorting and filling backpacks for the Backpack Buddies program and volunteering at the Tryon Road Teaching Farm, but this was our first opportunity to assist at a Mobile Market.

If you’re not familiar, Mobile Markets are direct distributions of groceries in low income neighborhoods that allow folks who need food to “shop” for free. By meeting people at their point of need, IFFS Mobile Markets overcome one of the root causes of hunger: lack of transportation to access food.

Produce at Martin St. Mobile MarketWe started out by unpacking palates of fresh produce and other goods from the refrigerated trucks, and then assisted with sorting and organizing the food to be distributed to the local residents of the surrounding neighborhoods. Once the market “opened” and people starting coming through the line to pick up their food, we joined several members of the Martin Street Baptist Church congregation to assist the customers with selecting their items. More specifically, I was in charge of the eggplant and okra, while Lilly gave out cherry tomatoes and Cameron gave out lemons, limes and oranges. Not surprisingly, the distribution quickly turned into a competition between siblings to see who would be the first to “sell” all of their produce. Lilly easily won by explaining all of the delicious dishes that could be made with her tomatoes.

While Lilly enjoyed having bragging rights for the rest of the day, the real benefits that we received were far more substantial. Teaching my children about the importan ce of giving back to their community is important to me as a parent and this experience allowed Lilly and Cameron the opportunity to see what it means to be a part of a community. On that Saturday morning, we were doing a lot more than simply handing out free produce and groceries to people in need. Instead, we were able to participate in something much greater. At the end of the day, hunger relief is about so much more than fresh vegetables or Mobile Markets. It is about a fostering a sense of community and caring for the people around you. Things like the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle’s Mobile Markets provide a wonderful opportunity for people to come together and help each other. Incredible things happen when people take the time to recognize their fellow community members in need and step up to do something about it. That is why I am so proud to serve of the Board of Directors.

The Food Shuttle facilitates 30 total Mobile Markets per month across our 7 counties. Click here for a map and list of monthly Mobile Markets that are open to the public.