Defining Region, Food Access Needs, and Demographics Q: For the Intent to Apply form, are you interested in the demographics of the people served or of the region as a whole? A: We are mainly interested in the demographics of the people you currently serve or those that you hope to serve at the 2 chosen community sites. If your organization is just starting, describe your proposed target market.
Q: How are you defining urban? A: We recognize that urban is defined differently depending on the area. As long as you are not exclusively rural or if you are still not sure how your area is classified we encourage you to submit an Intent to Apply and describe the area you work in. Focus your description more on the community sites you currently or plan to work with, rather than the question of urban vs. rural.
Q: How will selected partners be required to measure the percentage of individuals served by a site to be lower-income or have a demonstrated need for food access? A: We do not expect you to collect any new data to demonstrate the need for the purposes of the RFP. Simply providing data or any relevant information about your proposed community sites on who their target market is, if it is located within a lower-income census tract, or if it serves a certain percentage of households that participate in Federal assistance programs is sufficient. Community sites can often provide information on the food needs, whether through numbers or description, of their target community. The USDA low-access census tract may also be useful: https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/food-access-research-atlas/ If you are selected as a partner for the study, we will be collecting additional data to better understand the demographics of the sites served by your mobile market program.
Q: Can two organizations with different resources apply for the grant together? A: While we don’t want to definitively say yes or no, we would ask that you provide a justification for why it makes sense for your organizations to be applying together.
Q: Are mobile farmers’ markets which currently operate eligible to apply? A: Yes, but be sure to choose 4 new community sites for the study that would follow the Veggie Van model.
Q: Are organizations that both grow/produce the food and operate the market eligible to participate? A: Absolutely. We do ask that you keep in mind that the Veggie Van model honors communities’ cultural preferences so if your farm does not grow produce that meets that need we expect you to utilize a wholesaler or aggregator to supplement your produce.
Q: We are a food pantry system distributing food at no cost to people in short term emergencies. We are working to distribute more produce through a mobile program. Is this program strictly for a market that sells produce? A: Unfortunately, we are not including mobile market models that give away free produce – only the selling of reduced cost produce.
Q: Our mobile market has been in operation since 2015. We have 15 stops, strong partnerships, and customer base and use Farmers' Register. We would like to improve our model, expand sites & better evaluate our programs. Is this RFP applicable? A: We recognize that a challenge with many mobile markets is sustainability, so if you are a current market that is interested in expanding and needs help with improving your model to be more sustainable we are open to working with you. The main thing we ask is that you be open to following the Veggie Van model and can identify new community sites that will reach new customers not currently reached by your current mobile market stops.
Model Market Model
Q: This model is for a year-round model and not seasonal? A: Yes, ideally year-round but at least 10 months is acceptable given climate constraints.
Q: Is it possible to utilize AmeriCorps volunteers as "staff"? A: Absolutely, many mobile markets we’ve spoken with do this. If you currently use AmeriCorps volunteers, detail this in the organizational resources section of your application. You would still need to have a “permanent” staff member to serve as the main contact for the mobile market.
Q: Can selected partners work with a community-based organization to provide the cooking demos? A: Absolutely, many mobile markets we’ve spoken with do this. Please detail any relationships you have with organizations that provide cooking demos in the community resources section of your application.
Q: If it is an existing mobile market project when it goes to additional sites would it be using the "Veggie Van" moniker or can it continue to use the same name of the mobile market but use the Veggie Van model? A: You are welcome to use any name or branding. Veggie Van is not trademarked and the branding can be customized, so you are also welcome to use our name and logo or to continue to use your current mobile market name.
Q: Can we carry other grocery items in addition to produce? A: Yes, carrying non-produce items is common on mobile markets. We may make recommendations on the types of products you stock (i.e. whole grain rice vs. white rice, non-sugary cereals). Keep in mind that produce would still need to be offered in bundles (i.e., shares or boxes) to follow the Veggie Van model.
Q: Our mobile market does not currently offer boxes or bundles as we think free choice is important for our customers. Do we have to start offering them? A: We do expect partner organizations to offer some form of box or bundle of several items of produce because individuals are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables when purchased as a bundle. That said, we can work with you on bundle options that still allow for free choice. Selling individuals items of produce in addition to the box or bundle is allowed, but customers should be encouraged to buy bundles through marketing efforts (e.g., lower prices, signage, etc.)
Selecting Community Sites
Q: About the 50% parameter - 1/2 of our sites are in low-income areas that are food deserts and half are at different locations like two health clinics that serve people from all income levels, and a company. Does that fit within the parameters? A: Choosing sites that serve mixed income levels is acceptable. Choosing sites that exclusively serve middle to upper income levels is not. We also expect partner organizations to continue targeted marketing efforts tailored to low income individuals, even at mixed income sites.
Q: The RFP states that mobile market sites must be new (a mobile market has not been hosted at this site before). We implemented our mobile market for an 8 week 'pilot run' this summer and would wish to continue our current partnerships with the sites we work with. We feel, based on statistics, location etc. that these sites would be ones we would want to include in the RFP. Is this possible, or would we need to find other sites? A: Yes, you may use a pilot site as long as you are not currently running a mobile market there at the time of application. Keep in mind however that a pilot site may end up being a planning site, which means that they may not host a veggie van for up to a year. This is important to keep in mind if you have a community partner that is eager to launch. There may be a delay depending on study timeline.
Q: Would a site we are already running a mobile market at, be allowable to use as a site for Veggie van if we are selected? A: No. The only exception would be a pilot site that was formerly running. [See above question] Q: If we already have a mobile market in some capacity, are we free to continue operating stops outside the "Mobile Market Sites" and "Planning Sites"? A: Absolutely. We ask that you plan to follow the Veggie Van model at the 2 new community sites, but your existing sites can continue using their former model. Q: We are already doing community engagement in multiple neighborhoods, and will likely have a couple sites where we will be doing a mobile market starting as soon as next week. I am wondering if this would be an advantage or detriment to being selected for. A: It would not be a detriment, as long as the 2 new community sites that you are proposing serve a distinct population from where you are currently doing community engagement.
Use of Funds
Q: Will we need to supply the actual van? Or will you provide that? A: We do not provide a van. If you do not have a van and you would like to purchase and or rent one, you could use the $25,000 for that purpose. Please keep in mind that you do not need to have a van to run a mobile market program.
Q: Can funding be used for produce vouchers or incentives such as Veggie Rx? A: Absolutely, the funding can be used for incentive programs as long as it is clearly defined as to how the program will work and who will receive the incentive.
Technical Assistance and Data Collection
Q: Will your team be responsible for getting the necessary documentation to the city for approval of selling food? A: We can provide guidance on how to obtain approval, but your organization will ultimately be responsible.
Q: Will partner organization staff need to collect the data? Or will researchers assist on site? A: The study team will visit your site to conduct data collection at your mobile market/community planning kick-off events. If we are not able to collect data from enough individuals at the kick-off event, we will train your organization’s staff or volunteers to carry out data collection (e.g., measuring height and weight) for up to 2 months following the kick-off events.