TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (AP) — "I should have loaded up more!" said Patricia McClure after realizing she had been selected as Friday's "secret shopper" at the United Way's Mobile Market.
As the "secret shopper," McClure got her basket of fresh fruits and vegetables at no cost - one way the Mobile Market keeps customers coming back week after week.
Friday morning, the Mobile Market, a big trailer for hauling fresh produce around town, set up shop at Peddle Park, a retirement community on South 25th Street. Later in the day, the market would sell fresh fruits and vegetables at Westminster Village, downtown Terre Haute and Greenwood Manor.
"The produce and vegetables are all good," said Margaret Harris, one of a dozen or more shoppers at Peddle Park. A week earlier, Harris stocked up on items from the market, including fresh green beans, which she ate for three consecutive days, she said.
Harris is able to drive, but many Mobile Market customers have a tough time getting to a grocery store on their own. As a result, the traveling produce trailer provides a great service while promoting healthful eating.
"They love it," said Jan Anderson, manager of Peddle Park, speaking of the residents. At first, they were unsure of the new United Way project, which started in October. Now they can't wait for its arrival each week, she said.
Peddle Park is just one of several stops on the Mobile Market's list, the Tribune-Star reported (http://bit.ly/LvEGzj ).
On Tuesday afternoons, for example, the market pulls up outside the east wing of Union Hospital. In warmer months, the market can be found a block away at the corner of Eighth Street and Lafayette Avenue, said Norbert Gottschling, market coordinator.
About 18 percent of the residents in the Union Hospital neighborhood have no independent means of transportation, said James Twitchell, community benefit specialist for the hospital. The Mobile Market improves access for those folks to healthful food, he said.
Stepping inside the Mobile Market means getting a strong whiff of fresh produce, including onions, garlic, celery, cabbage, turnips, broccoli, beets, potatoes, apples, grapes, squash and much, much more. On Friday, big sellers at Peddle Park included bananas, grapes, tomatoes, potatoes and salad mixes.
In addition to traditional produce, the market also offers items such as mangos, limes, eggplant, pineapples and mini watermelons.
The Mobile Market sells produce at bargain prices equal to what traditional grocery stores offer when they are attempting to get rid of something, Gottschling said. Most of the market's customers pay in cash, some with credit or debit cards and a few with food stamps, he said.
The United Way Mobile Market's goal is to earn just enough profit to cover any spoilage, Gottschling said. It is mostly supported financially by sponsoring entities, including Union Hospital, Terre Haute Regional Hospital, Clabber Girl, Indiana State University, the Wabash Valley Community Foundation, Westminster Village and the Vigo County Health Department, he said.
Information from: Tribune-Star, http://www.tribstar.com