An oasis in the desert? The benefits and constraints of mobile markets operating in Syracuse, New York food deserts

Jonnell A Robinson, Evan L Weissman, Susan Adair, Matthew Potteiger, Joaquin Villanueva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations


In this paper we critically examine mobile markets as an emerging approach to serving communities with limited healthy food options. Mobile markets are essentially farm stands on wheels, bringing fresh fruits, vegetables and other food staples into neighborhoods, especially those lacking traditional, full service grocery stores, or where a significant proportion of the population lacks transportation to grocery stores. We first trace the emergence of contemporary mobile markets, including a brief summary about how and where they operate, what they aim to achieve, who they serve, and the general constraints on their operations. We then report case study findings that examine the operational benefits and challenges of two mobile markets operating in Syracuse, New York. Our research suggests that although Syracuse’s mobile markets play a positive role in alleviating geographic, economic and social barriers to fresh food access experienced by elderly, immobile and low income residents living in Syracuse’s urban neighborhoods, the impacts of the mobile markets are dampened by both operational constraints and larger political and economic forces.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalAgriculture and Human Values
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 12 2016



  • Farmers’ markets
  • Food access
  • Food deserts
  • Food justice
  • Mobile markets

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science

Cite this