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Why Columbia city leaders want to put a grocery story on wheels

The market would initially launch in three zip codes: 29203, 29204, and 29223.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Columbia City leaders are looking to bring fresh food to communities in need by creating a mobile food market. 

"The mobile market pulls up, it has fruits, veggies, maybe some diary, maybe some meat, so that you don't have to go out of your neighborhood to have access to healthy foods," said Columbia Food Policy Committee member Ashley Page.

Page hopes the market will be able to make multiple stops a day, every week. She said she'd love to see the market accept SNAP and WIC, as well as other forms of payment like cash, credit cards, cash app, and more.  

The proposal came up in a Columbia City Council Committee meeting, but it is not clear when the full council will take a vote on the idea.

Page said the market would launch in three zip codes: 29203, 29204, and 29223. Once it is successfully implemented in these areas, it would expand to more neighborhoods. 

These three zip codes were identified as a priority because according to Page, these areas are low income with low food access. 

“There's food available, but it's a lot of unhealthy food and you don't have a lot of access to healthier food options," said Page. 

According to Census data, the combined population of these zip codes is 171,000 people. The poverty rate of residents in the area is 18.4 percent, above the state's average rate of 13.7 percent. 

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As a mother of two young kids, Katrisha Johnson knows the importance of healthy food.  

"They love sliced oranges, strawberries, my youngest he loves pears, he loves bananas," said Johnson. 

However, she said having only one grocery story nearby means it is not always easy to access. 

"I wouldn’t have to waste so much gas going here or over there or an extra five miles to the store or if they don’t have something I need, an extra 10 miles for something," said Johnson. 

Page said the next step is securing funding for the estimated $300,000 start up cost. 

In June, Columbia launched the food access map to help residents locate fresh food. 

RELATED: New tool helps locate fresh food, veggies in Columbia area

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