Lexington mobile food market doubles sales in first six months. Here’s how it works

It was expected to be popular, but its success was still a surprise to city officials.

Since first hitting the streets of Lexington in November 2023, the mobile one-aisle grocery store has doubled its sales from $5,384 in its first month of operation to $10,999 in May.

“The Mobile Market is a rolling food oasis that serves areas in Lexington without a grocery store nearby,” Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton. “It is a place where anyone can purchase fresh produce and staples.”

The 60-foot trailer hits 22 active sites around Lexington Tuesdays through Saturdays, making around 60 stops a month. It offers essentials like fresh fruits, vegetables, milk (dairy and nondairy options), chicken, beef, pork, deli meat, cheese, yogurt and a limited amount of household products like toilet tissue, detergents and cleaning products.

“Food is an essential source for growth, strength and life. It is a human right,” said John Rupp, senior manager of nutrition programs for God’s Pantry Food Bank.

“As advocates, we champion better access to nutritious food and work to get more people engaged.”

The 60-foot trailer hits 22 active sites around Lexington Tuesdays through Saturdays, making around 60 stops a month.
The 60-foot trailer hits 22 active sites around Lexington Tuesdays through Saturdays, making around 60 stops a month.

God’s Pantry operates the market, while Kroger Co. keeps its shelves stocked.

“Now that it is summer and school meals are gone, the Mobile Market is a vital source of fresh and nutritious food for the one in five children experiencing food insecurity in Fayette County,” Rupp said.

The market operates on a cashless system, accepting debit, credit and SNAP/EBT cards. This is something Mobile Market manager Lisa Ellis said was initially a challenge for some residents to catch on to.

“The community has been very understanding that it’s not just to say, “this is what we want to have,” but for safety reasons as well,” Ellis said.

“It’s been some struggles but we’ve made it through.”

The mobile store vision

The program was a development that came out of the 2020 Racial Justice and Equality Report to Gorton’s administration, according to Lexington’s Equity and Implementation Officer Tiffany Brown.

“I’m very proud,” Brown said. “As Mayor Gorton, John and Lisa have stated, addressing food insecurity is a multi-pronged approach. No one organization (or) entity can solve hunger. It’s going to take partnerships. It took this partnership to make the dent that we’re making in the community.”

While Gorton and her office were optimistic about the future of the Mobile Market, plans for more mobile markets or expansion of the program are not on the table right now.