Market on the Move: Fresh and Affordable Produce

Market on the Move volunteers disperse produce at the Santa Catalina Church on Feb. 22, 2014. (Photograph by Ashlie Stewart)
Market on the Move volunteers disperse produce at the Santa Catalina Catholic Church in February.  (Photograph by Ashlie Stewart)

Market on the Move, a program devoted to saving food and feeding people, is attracting more customers than ever.

But it isn’t just the markets’ red Roma tomatoes and crispy bell peppers that draw people in. The unique goals and values of the program are what truly set it apart.

For only a $10 donation, anyone can go to a market and take home up to 60 pounds of produce. Although the markets’ locations and variety of produce varies weekly, the price remains the same.

One of the main goals of Market on the Move is to avoid wasting any food. The program’s founders started the markets with just a few loads of watermelon. Today,  truckloads of produce are picked up each week. Most of it is rescued from Mexico.

“Nothing is wasted,” said Sister Jean, the director of social concerns at the Santa Catalina Catholic Church. “When we hold a market everything that is not moved through the process is taken to the Community Food Bank, and anything that is squished is donated to farmers and gardeners for mulch.”

Customers who attend the markets are encouraged to share the produce with neighbors or friends in need. For many people, picking up the produce and dispersing it is a community experience.

“The goal of the program is to get food into the hands of hungry people, and we continue to feed more people each and every month,” said Mark Pincus, the site director of the Santa Catalina Catholic Church market.

Tomatoes at the Market on the Move at Santa Catalina Catholic Church. (Photograph by Ashlie Stewart)
Tomatoes at the Market on the Move at Santa Catalina Catholic Church. (Photograph by Ashlie Stewart)

And according to the founder of Market on the Move, Lon Taylor, people from all different walks of life attend the markets.

“We have a wide variety of people at all different income levels,” Taylor said. “It’s a slice of American pie.”

But why do the markets move? According to Taylor they move so that the discounted produce can reach more people. “We try to spread out as much as possible.”

Every Saturday there are markets held at five to six locations around town from November to April, and intermittently throughout the year. The locations move each week based on requests from different host organizations, and all sites are chosen based solely on those requests.

Just recently, a new program started in Tucson so people can attend a Market on the Move mid-week if they aren’t able to attend a Saturday function. The Wednesday market is located at the 3000 Club Tucson warehouse.

The 3000 Club is a non-profit organization out of Phoenix that started the Market on the Move program about three years ago. The organization’s mission statement is, “Providing life saving fruits and vegetables to impoverished families.”

Market on the Move is only one aspect of their charitable initiatives, but it continues to draw more customers and reach more people each year.

Sister Jean said that the market at Santa Catalina Catholic Church has progressed from about 250 to almost 600 visitors since she first started hosting the program about a year and a half ago. She believes advertisement and word of mouth has helped spread the news.

“There has been lots of advertising and flyers up at stores,” Sister Jean said. “I even take some flyers to Curves when I go to work out.”

And according to Taylor, the future looks bright for Market on the Move. New programs like the MOM-Express program and the Mega Marketplace are sprouting up in Phoenix, and there is talk of expansion in Tucson as well.

“There is still more produce to be rescued,” Taylor said. “And our goal is to eventually spread to as many communities as possible.”*

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