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Tempe Introduces Mobile Food Market to Fill Grocery Store Gap

TEMPE, AZ — Apples, potatoes, carrots on a bus. This new shopping concept to help Tempe residents have better access to fresh fruits and vegetables, following the 2021 closure of the Food City on Apache Boulevard.

Phil Amorosi’s grocery shopping might seem a little different from his usual routine.

He says, “I’m the president of the neighborhood association across the street. When I heard that Food City was closing, I realized so many people here only had bikes, they didn’t have cars. They need a mall nearby.

After Food City closed, Amarosi contacted Tempe Mayor Corey Woods, fearing they’d end up in a food wasteland.

Mayor Woods heard from Amarosi and other residents on Apache Boulevard. The solution is a mobile farmer’s market on wheels called Farm Express.

Elyse Guidas, executive director of Activate Food Arizona, says, “We travel to communities that don’t have easy access to groceries or fresh produce.”

Mayor Woods attended Tuesday’s event outside the former Food City.

“Late last year, the city of Tempe purchased the center where we are now for $10.6 million,” says Woods.

“We learned at the end of September 2021 that the Food City was going to close. And many residents of the area on the north and south side of Apache Boulevard, some of our longtime neighborhoods, and some of the people who just moved in recently have spoken of their concern about living in a food desert without the presence of a grocery store.”

Every other Tuesday from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., regional and accessible fruits and vegetables are offered at cost price.

“Those who use SNAP benefits, we have a program called double food dollars for every dollar they spend on the bus, they get another dollar to redeem for extra fruits and vegetables,” Guidas says.

Amarosi is delighted that his city has accepted this temporary help.

“At least the city shows up and does something,” Amarosi said.

Looking ahead, Mayor Woods told ABC15 there are plans to build a new grocery store and 300 affordable housing units.