Not near a grocery? This one might stop near you

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Stretching your budget and keeping your diet healthy can be a challenge without a neighborhood grocery store or the wheels to get to one.

In St. Paul a potential solution to that problem has pulled up to the curb.

The Amherst H. Wilder Foundation has retrofitted a bus and turned it into a rolling supermarket called the Twin Cities Mobile Market.

Since the first of the year, the market has been making weekly stops at 17 locations around St. Paul (see map below), selling produce and other food it has purchased at or below cost.

The market's director tells the Pioneer Press the goal is to provide affordable, healthy food to residents who lack access to full-service grocery stores.

In recent years the U.S. Department of Agriculture has been mapping areas with low access (they now shy away from the term "food desert"). Its findings are available through the USDA's Food Access Research Atlas.

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MPR News spoke with a customer who buys groceries for her father, a resident of the Parkway Gardens senior apartments. Nancy Polancheck tells the network the nearest supermarket is about three miles from her father's home and the convenience of the mobile market was furthered when workers on the bus offered to carry the groceries up the stairs to her dad's apartment.

MPR says the foundation spent $60,000 to buy and retrofit the bus and estimates the annual cost running the program will be $150,000 to $200,000.

The Wilder Foundation hopes to raise enough money to buy a second bus and expand the program to Minneapolis.

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