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Table 2 Practices that May Mitigate Common Challenges

From: Operational challenges that may affect implementation of evidence-based mobile market interventions

Challenges Addressed Practices Example Illustrative Quote
Expensive business model; lack of financial sustainability Solicit investment in the mobile market to fund operations Consistent philanthropic donations and gifts (e.g., donated vehicles); business/corporate sponsorship What we've done successfully for the last number of years is we've gotten all of our vehicles paid for by private philanthropy." New York Mobile Market Key Informant
Staff issues Promote staff solidarity, communication, and empowerment to enhance employee retention and satisfaction Offer a variety of professional development trainings for staff, holds weekly staff meetings, pays an hourly wage above the state minimum wage " So, taking folks out to lunch at the end of the season, supporting them to go to trainings …that's not in the screening process that's more just in sort of having an eye toward retention and appreciation, which I think you see the payoff because you don't waste the energy in recruiting and training." Massachusetts Mobile Market Key Informant
Expensive business model; lack of financial sustainability; staff issues Adopt innovative staffing models to facilitate market expansion without increased staff expenses Shift staffing to a greater reliance on volunteers and a reduced reliance on paid staff "So, we're piloting a few different things. One is the new staffing model…where we're going to be just having one paid staff per bus with staff as volunteers. So as soon as we can put that second bus into operation, we’ll have increased volume of sales without doubling our staffing expenses." Minnesota Mobile Market Key Informant
Expensive business model; lack of financial sustainability; staff issues Participate in federal service programs that mobilize committed and mission-driven students for employment and share staff costs Participate in an Americorps program (VISTA, National, State) and hosting students as employees "It was a natural progression of our work to go from growing food and inviting people to the farm to realizing the barriers that our communities face and accessing food…which we address with our Mobile Farmers Market by having our AmeriCorps members who are trained, know how to cook the produce, how to grow the produce, answering questions about it…but the majority of our funding comes from AmeriCorps branch which is a federal grant program." Maryland Mobile Market Key Informant
Expensive business model; lack of financial sustainability Maximize profits from other services Commercial kitchen (small food business incubator), food hub, and community supported agriculture (CSA) shares; expand food production (e.g., high value crops) and/or aggregation and distribute to restaurants and institutions "We have a shared commercial kitchen and food business incubator so that is basically a commercial kitchen facility that we've built to support new and existing small food businesses. So, they pay by the hour to rent our space and run whatever business it is they run." Virginia Mobile Market Key Informant
Expensive business model; lack of financial sustainability; community engagement issues Scale up the profitability of events When mobile market is invited to community and corporate events, charge a fee to corporate sites while extending a sliding scale cost or no charge to community sites "For our popup events, our corporate groups pay the full cost of overhead for their events…as well as the overhead associated with a popup event in our target community. So that [is] $1,000 for them, $500 for their own event and $500 for sponsoring events in our neighborhoods. The folks in our neighborhood don’t have to pay for overhead; all they pay is the price of the food that they’re distributing." Massachusetts Mobile Market Key Informant
Staff issues; community engagement issues Ensure that staff are representative of the demographic of the communities that the market visits Prioritize hiring staff that reside in the communities served "That lived experience is valuable to have as part of the team. Having also the lived experienced on being on SNAP or EBT or WIC knowing truly what it is like to try to get the quality food that you want in that area in your neighborhood; and also, being part of a solution and the joy that comes from that is some of the biggest feedback that I’ve gotten from staff that are from the community we are serving." DC Mobile Market Key Informant
Limited organizational capacity for nutrition education; reach/penetration of target market Employ staff that are qualified to provide regular nutrition education Employ staff, such as a nutritionist, that largely focus on cooking-related programming including nutrition education directly at the market "[We] hired a community nutritionist and so he again helps make the connection that food is medicine and can talk to folks more specifically about their possible health challenges…he's been a farmer, he's worked for another hospital system the city and is bilingual, that's really important [for] our market to have at these Spanish speakers staffing…we pay him to be at the market." New Mexico Mobile Market Key Informant
Staff issues; community engagement issues Recruit dedicated community members that serve as “champions” or “advocates” for the mobile market, acting as a liaison between the mobile market and the community Champions may be connected to a host site (e.g., resident at a housing that hosts the market) or to the mobile market (e.g., regular customer) and typically assist with community engagement and marketing "We're not getting as many young families and Latinos as we would like to see proportional to the makeup of the city, and so we've been doing targeted outreach at sites that have a higher concentration of those populations. We're piloting a resident champion model this year, so we hired someone from one of the large public housing facility sites…he’s a native Spanish speaker and he lives in that community. So, he's really focusing on targeted outreach." Massachusetts Mobile Market Key Informant
Staff issues; community engagement issues; procurement issues Establish competitive and synergistic volunteer programs Volunteers accepted into the work-share program receive credits toward produce at the market in exchange for hours worked (e.g., $10 of produce for every hour volunteered); residents from the communities served are given priority acceptance "But we do have a lot of consistent volunteers, and folks that are signed up for our work shared programs, so community members can agree to serve on our mobile market or our farm and earn produce shares to use at the mobile market. " Maryland Mobile Market Key Informant
Community engagement issues; reach/penetration of target market Establish partnerships with local service providers that actively engage with the same target market Partner with the local WIC or Department of Social Services (DSS) offices; mobile market marketing materials are included in Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) benefit folders and SNAP recertification paperwork "We did an outreach campaign with our WIC office….and then having them include our schedule with all of the pockets of the [Farmers Market Nutrition] coupons….that did lead to a significant increase in our WIC coupon utilization." Massachusetts Mobile Market Key Informant
Expensive business model; lack of financial sustainability Expand reach beyond lower-income communities Partner with supplemental sites that attract mixed or higher income customers "Well, industry standards are...there's a minimum of 33% mark up on produce, and it goes up to [as] high as about 42%. So, I stay within that bracket [at corporate sites] …they're lower at the community sites. " New York Mobile Market Key Informant
Host site issues; community engagement issues Establish explicit and formalized expectations of host sites Host “lead team” meetings with host site contacts on a monthly basis that are focused on discussing market logistics "So, we have a lead team that meets monthly throughout the year. And on the lead team several of the site contacts are the champions for the market and attend regularly. At times we've had subcommittees…an outreach subcommittee really was an informal couple of meetings where our site contacts would sit down with each other and talk about best practices." New Mexico Mobile Market Key Informant
Community engagement issues Formation of advisory committees to guide decision making An advisory committee comprised of community partners and residents meets quarterly to discuss strategic planning decisions We have a broader advisory group. That’s made up of eight individuals, four which are community members and four of which are folks who work with organizations, that work directly with the communities that served. So, they do bigger picture work. " New Mexico Mobile Market Key Informant
Community engagement issues; site viability Conduct formative work prior to market launch to inform decisions on site location and market planning Conduct stakeholder interviews, listening sessions, and focus groups with community members "So, we did a ton of community engagement prior to launching the program because we really wanted the mobile market to be informed and driven by the community, and so we did outreach and engagement with over 500 residents." Minnesota Mobile Market Key Informant
Site viability; host site issues Formalize the process for identifying host sites Implement an application process to ensure that site decisions are based on community need/demand and the applicant’s ability to partner "So, they fill out the application and then we review the application in a similar manner maybe a funder would review a grant. And we make decisions based on need, and also the organization's ability to actually partner with us, meaning we bring the food and the education to the neighborhood but it's on them to build the community around it and get people to the stand." New York Mobile Market Key Informant
Community engagement issues; reach/target market penetration; site viability Innovate and continually update market schedule and location Rotate new and interested sites in a monthly rotational time slot as a means to pilot the site "We have four different locations plugging into a monthly rotational spot. That's how [market site name] started out. They were a monthly site and then they were far away the busiest site every time, so the next year we gave them a weekly slot. " New York Mobile Market Key Informant
Site viability; host site issues Explicit and formalized expectations of host sites Set minimal criterion of the number of engagements per hour or produce sold per hour that a host site must guarantee "We discuss the terms that they need to be doing for outreach. And we do put in the application that they either need to meet our sales minimums or our visitor minimums. And right now, we're at, I believe it's a $110 an hour or 40 people per hour, which sounds high but it's totally doable." New York Mobile Market Key Informant
Host site issues; community engagement issues; reach/target market penetration Expect a greater degree of involvement in community outreach and market day logistics Host sites may be asked to take on the brunt of the community outreach and marketing in the form of canvassing, phone or text reminders, social media posts, posting and distributing signs, and making PA announcements "We rely on the sites primarily for outreach…we expect them, and some do it more passionately than others to just be using that word of mouth and that relationship to make sure that people know about the market." Rhode Island Mobile Market Key Informant
Host site issues; site viability Implement a process for tracking and holding sites accountable Provide regular feedback to host sites based on market performance (e.g., sales, reach, traffic); maintain a public facing scoreboard that all partners can view "We’ve tried actually sending out like a public score board. It’s not ranked or anything, but it gives everybody a chance to see where they stand. And it gives us a little bit of weight when we’re having that conversation." Massachusetts Mobile Market Key Informant
Community engagement issues; expensive business model; lack of financial sustainability Solicit investment in the mobile market Encourage or expect host sites to invest in the mobile market by purchasing coupons/vouchers for their clients to spend at the market "We'll often times go to some of our partners and say, 'All right, we're not charging you for this,' because we don't charge anyone for our attendance. But I'll say to some of them, give me a hundred bucks and I'll split it out into 50 $2 vouchers that we can then give to your clients, or your residents, or whatever the case may be. So, sometimes we'll ask our partners to actually invest in the program, but its money for the consumer use." New York Mobile Market Key Informant
Expensive business model; lack of financial sustainability Expand inventory to include high profit items Secure a sponsorship with large food companies that will donate non-produce stables (e.g., meat, eggs, milk) that the market can sell at a 100% profit "We're always looking for creative food sourcing strategy. So right now, one of our sponsors is [Brand Name] and they donate the deli meat direct to us from their warehouse and then we turn on and sell it for 100% profit, but we sell it as significantly lower price than what people would pay on the store." Minnesota Mobile Market Key Informant
Procurement issues; expensive business model; lack of financial sustainability Connection to a farm within parent organization which serves as a partial source of produce Engage in some form of farming either on their own property or throughout the community "I’d say 80 percent of the produce is from our farm. And then like the other 20 percent, I buy directly from like farms that I know. [Farm name] is a member of the Farm Alliance of Baltimore City, which has I think 12 or 15 active member farms." Maryland Mobile Market Key Informant
Procurement issues; reconciling missions; expensive business model; lack of financial sustainability Establish relationships that facilitate procurement of local produce and minimize price Establish and cultivate relationships with a food hub, aggregator, or agricultural cooperative/network "So we buy from about 10 different entities. So, most of those are small independent farm and then one of those is an aggregator…she follows the same kind of hundred-mile radius that we do, but through her we can buy a wider variety of products, we can buy at wholesale prices a little more easily and get a lot of products that the independent farms that we work with don't grow or carry…she sources from about 50 local farms." Virginia Mobile Market Key Informant
Expensive business model; lack of financial sustainability Establish and leverage relationships with local organizations to facilitate vehicle updates and maintenance Utilize a mechanic that specializes in camper vehicles due to their similarities to mobile markets; partner with local college students in architecture or design programs to retrofit the mobile market as part of a class project "We purchased a box truck…and sent it up to a nearby University, James Madison to the industrial design school where some seniors in that school took on retrofitting our truck as a as their kind of senior project, their senior kind of workshop project." Virginia Mobile Market Key Informant
Expensive business model; lack of financial sustainability Adopt a form of differential pricing Establishing prices based on the type of community site (e.g., lower-income versus mixed/higher income community) or the customer (e.g., SNAP-eligible versus SNAP ineligible) "We set our retail price as close to double wholesale as possible and as reasonable…and so then full priced customers will pay retail and then anyone who received the [SNAP] match will pay essentially the wholesale cost…so that enables us to lose less money on our – using our match program." Massachusetts Mobile Market Key Informant
Reach/penetration of target market; weather limitations Extend market season while adapting to climate constraints Operate nearly year-round (40-week season) in a cold climate but shift to a lighter market schedule for half of their season to adjust for the limitations that come with a colder climate "During November through April we do four stops per week in our lighter [season]…and there's less produce variety then and we're also going through the food hub for that time…. our light season was an additional 20 weeks this year, but our full [season is] 16 stops a week [and] is 20 weeks." Massachusetts Mobile Market Key Informant
Limited organizational capacity for nutrition education Navigate local regulations to facilitate regular nutrition education offered by mobile market organization Obtain appropriate food handlers’ cards, permitting, and investing in any necessary upgrades (e.g., hand washing station) to permit conducting nutrition education and food demonstrations "I've asked two of our staff members to [obtain] the food handler’s license…we have to have the hand washing stations on site. And so, we had to get a temporary event permit which is for those hands-on demo and then a food service with a limited menu permit." New Mexico Mobile Market Key Informant
Limited organizational capacity for nutrition education; community engagement issues Adopt a train-the-trainer model for nutrition education Train community members to lead monthly 90-min nutrition classes within host sites that are partnering with mobile market "So, we actually have—we do a train to trainer model to—so we engage with community, and we train the community, some community residence to be the co-leaders of those nutrition education process." Louisiana Mobile Market Key Informant
Expensive business model; lack of financial sustainability; limited organizational capacity for nutrition education Incentivize purchases of several produce items that can be incorporated into a recipe Offer a reduced cost bundle purchase that includes produce items and other ingredients that can be incorporated into a recipe that is provided "We do a bundle, so it’s all connected with our recipe demo…. we choose the recipe for the week, [and] all of our volunteers cook that recipe at every market and then we sell a recipe bundle where you can buy all of the ingredients for that recipe…. we give them the recipe obviously also. We increased by something ridiculous like 500% last year from where we were the year prior with the sales of our recipe bundles because we were just more consistent with it." Pennsylvania Mobile Market Key Informant
Data collection and evaluation issues Facilitate participation in data collection efforts among customers Incentivize customers to complete a self-administered paper survey at the market with a gift card or a discount at the mobile market "In return for customers filling out the survey, they get a loyalty card so every week they get $2 off a purchase at a market throughout the season." DC Mobile Market Key Informant
Data collection and evaluation issues Facilitate participation in data collection efforts among customers; reduce burden on customers As an alternative to administering a paper survey, rapid market assessment where a poster board with 1–2 multiple choice questions is displayed and customers place stickers next to their chosen answer "A couple of times a season we do surveys… a dot survey method of data gathering…it takes three seconds or [if] you do two questions, and it takes six seconds. It gives me pretty valuable feedback. We ask a whole smattering of things like, 'How did you get here? And what do you like most about the market? And what would you like to see change?' " Virginia Mobile Market Key Informant