FAIRBORN — A mobile grocery, aiming to sell affordable, healthy foods to residents throughout the area, is rolling out in the City of Fairborn.
Joyvin Mobile Grocer LLC. (JMG), a for-profit social enterprise, will be traveling to neighborhoods in the city where access to local groceries are limited and stopping at scheduled locations to provide a link to fresh food options.
“We are a grocer on a mission,” said Sandra Bowden, who along with JMG Team Members Ciara Owens and Hemdeep Mehta visited the Fairborn City Council Aug. 14 work session. “We sell groceries in areas that are deemed as ‘food deserts,’ but we give away knowledge as well.”
Bowden, a Fairborn resident, told city leaders that the unmarked, white grocery truck would be fully stocked with fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, dairy products, bread and domestic commodities. JMG will also accept credit, debit, EBT (SNAP) cards as well as cash.
JMG currently operates in collaboration with the CDCRC Inc. (Community Development Corporation Resource Consortium Inc.), a non-profit organization, who has been serving the Greater Dayton community since 2001. Delivery of food is combined with messages of self-empowerment and improved health, which is aimed to ultimately provide local residents wellness opportunities and overall independence.
“JMG believes in the core mission of the CDCRC in that whole people create whole neighborhoods, and whole neighborhoods create who communities,” Bowden said. “JMG is also seeking community partnerships and looking for a site in the city to call home.”
At the present, JMG is servicing seniors at five sites in the Miami Valley area every first and third Thursday of the month. Bowden said one concept that was discussed among the JMG team was to use the parking lot at the historic Fairborn Theatre, located at 34 S. Broad Street, as a scheduled location.
“That is a concept or idea for here in Fairborn,” Bowden said. “We have an agreement with our local distributor to pick up the food in the morning and return any unbought items within the next two days.”
City Council Member Rob Hoffman asked Owens if the prices for the food items would be comparable to the larger grocery stores in the area. Owens noted that JMG could not compete with Walmart or Kroger regarding certain grocery items. Yet, she noted that JMG’s prices for most items could be compared more to the prices at IGA.
“AWG is our grocery distributor that supplies our products and helps us set our prices,” Bowden said. “However, we have a direct relationship with manufactures because we have a relationship with our distributor. Therefore, on main-brand items, such as Tide detergent or Dairy Pure milk, you will find our prices more comparable to Kroger or Walmart.”
City Council Member Donna Wilson asked Bowden if JMG accepted donations such as a surplus of tomatoes or fruits. Bowden stated that JMG could accept certain donated items because the mobile grocery is a social enterprise directly connected to the CDCRC Inc.
“You donate the items to the CDCRC to create a specific revenue stream back to them. That way we can keep these programs such as financial literacy,” Bowden said. “By being that grocery store in front of your door, we are able to bring with us information about neat things you can access in the community that will take you from whatever state you are in to a better state.”
City Manager Rob Anderson suggested contacting the owner of the senior apartments on Central Avenue and providing him with information about the new mobile grocery.
“We would make those connections and try to get permission for JMG to go out to the apartment complex,” Anderson said. “This way we are helping the community by providing information about the resources that exists.”
Fairborn Mayor Dan Kirkpatrick pointed out that some of the grocery chains include or are going to have in the future home delivery and asked Bowden if JMG would eventually become a home delivery service. She explained that home delivery is technically illegal for JMG because of the way the U.S. Department of Agriculture is structured.
“As of now, we can only make provisions for none-able body or not-mentally competent residents that live inside your community and have a guardian who can order for them through our program,” Bowden said.
JMG Team Member Owens noted that JMG continues to be “a work in process,” and the three entrepreneurs are working with community leaders to raise the awareness of the program.
“We are a four-corner grocery store on wheels, and we have 30,000 products for residents,” Owens said. “We have a full refrigeration unit in the truck for our fresh fruits and vegetables which is hard to acquire for some people.”
For more information about JMG, contact its team members at 937-986-9866 or via e-mail at [email protected]. Citizens are also encouraged to visit the JMG Facebook page at www.facebook.com/JoyvinMobileGrocer.