A new mobile farmers’ market has taken root in the Smoketown neighborhood.
The Thorobred Nutrition Kitchen, officially unveiled Thursday, is a collaboration between Louisville Metro, Kentucky State University, Youthbuild Louisville and Farm Credit Mid-America.
Interim KSU President Raymond Burse said its purpose is to increase access to healthy foods and to provide cooking and nutrition instruction to Smoketown residents. It will also allow KSU’s College of Agriculture to conduct research on the financial stability and efficacy of the mobile market program.
“Smoketown and a number of other areas in the Louisville area have insufficient sources of food and supermarkets that are available, so as people can get fresh fruits and vegetables to be able to eat very healthy and stay healthy,” Burse said.
This week, WFPL’s Jacob Ryan reported on a survey that noted a general lack of services in Smoketown. When asked what businesses and community resources they would like to see, 69 percent of respondents said they would like a grocery store.
The mobile kitchen has been active since July, selling fresh produce from local farms every Wednesday from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in front of the Sheppard Square leasing office. The plan is to expand the kitchen into other underserved communities and to offer prepared meals.
Mai Nguyen, community outreach coordinator for the kitchen, said two dozen people will purchase produce from the kitchen on any given Wednesday afternoon. She said members of Bates Memorial Baptist Church frequent the shop before service, and Shirley Mae Beard, owner of Shirley Mae’s Soul Food Cafe, buys produce from the kitchen to use at the restaurant.
“I really feel like our role is being more of a connector more so than a provider,” Nguyen said.
Kris Grimes, program director of the kitchen, said organizers hope the mobile kitchen will mediate the gap between Smoketown residents and food access, and show that a grocery store could be a successful business in the neighborhood.