Ascension St. Joseph hospital is hosting a mobile market for the next two weeks as leaders weigh opening a permanent grocery store on the campus.
The mobile market, which is stocked by Piggly Wiggly and run by the Hunger Task Force, will operate in the hospital’s parking lot, 5051 W. Burleigh St., from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday until May 14.
But after these two weeks, a new set of work begins: analyzing the shopping trends. Reggie Newson, chief community impact and advocacy officer for Ascension Wisconsin, said officials will collect data on the market’s use to see if there is enough demand for a permanent grocery store in the Sherman Park neighborhood, where St. Joseph is located.
“Access to fresh food and jobs can seriously affect health outcomes,” Newson said. “We consider this health care outside the four walls of the hospital.”
Sherrie Tussler, executive director of Hunger Task Force, said her organization did door-to-door canvassing to get the word out about the mobile market.
Tussler said housing a grocery store in the hospital, located at 5000 W. Chambers St., would also create an option for “produce prescriptions,” where doctors could write prescriptions for those with health concerns that could be addressed through nutrition.
In addition, Tussler said, a brick-and-mortar location would help about 70% of the area’s residents who don’t have a car. The nearest grocery store is about a mile and half away in Midtown, she said.
“The leverage point here is healthy foods,” Tussler said.
Mabel Lamb, executive director of the Sherman Park Community Association, said the neighborhood’s 31,000 residents need a grocery store. The area has an oversaturation of convenience stores but no access to fresh vegetables and fruit, she said.
“It’s a lot easier to walk to St. Joe’s than it is to walk to Sentry on Lisbon,” Lamb said.
The mobile market accepts FoodShare Quest cards, debit cards and credit cards and sells goods at a 25% discount. No cash is accepted. Hunger Task Force will also have staff on site to help people sign up for FoodShare benefits.