Since hitting the road in February, Virtua Health’s “Eat Well” Mobile Grocery Store has taken off.
The store-on-wheels – which brings healthy, affordable food to six South Jersey communities in need each week – recently served its 1,000 customer.
“People are really enthusiastic about the Mobile Grocery Store,” said April Schetler, assistant vice president of community health engagement at Virtua Health, South Jersey’s largest health system.
“We’ve already exceeded our three-month goal of 720 transactions by more than 20 percent – getting even more fresh, nutritious food into the homes of those who need it most!”
The celebratory moment took place at Doreatha D. Campbell Senior Housing on Sunset Road in Willingboro, where the Mobile Grocery Store visits every Tuesday morning.
Shopper Malissa Plaza reacted with surprise and gratitude when she learned she was the 1,000 customer. Virtua staff members presented her with a flowering plant. Plus, she and all customers that morning received a reusable cloth shopping bag stuffed with a $10 gift voucher, can opener, vegetable peeler, and jar gripper.
“The Virtua bus has been a blessing, since it is difficult for disabled people like me to do fresh shopping,” said Plaza, who is a regular at the store. “This is a wonderful concept. The selections have been fantastic. The prices here are wonderful.”
This one-aisle mobile supermarket is unlike anything in the tri-state region and beyond. It offers all the basics, including fresh produce, eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt, frozen meat and fish, bread, rice, beans, pasta, soup, oils, ketchup, and household staples like toilet paper and cleaning products. SNAP benefits are accepted.
The Eat Well Mobile Grocery Store offers fresh, healthy, and culturally relevant foods at below-market prices at affordable housing communities and senior communities with an identified need, in Burlington and Camden counties. NJ Transit donated the city bus that became the Mobile Grocery Store.
“By creating a reliable and affordable source of nutritious food, we’re working to reduce both food insecurity and diet-related chronic illnesses such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity,” said Schetler, who is a registered dietitian.
The Mobile Grocery Store began serving the community in February 2021, and has continued making weekly stops at three sites in Camden, plus locations in Delanco, Sicklerville, and Willingboro. Virtua unveiled the vehicle at a soft launch last October, to introduce the program to the public and build awareness.
The Mobile Grocery Store has been made possible through the support of Virtua Health’s generous philanthropic partners.
For more information about the Mobile Grocery Store and Virtua Health’s “Eat Well” food-access programs, visit virtua.org/about/eat-well.
Virtua Health is committed to helping the people of South Jersey be well, get well, and stay well by providing the complete spectrum of advanced, accessible, and trusted health care services. Virtua’s 14,000 colleagues provide tertiary care, including a renowned cardiology program, complemented by a community-based care portfolio. In addition to five hospitals, two satellite emergency departments, and more than 280 other locations, Virtua brings health services directly into communities through home health, rehabilitation, mobile screenings, and its paramedic program. Virtua has 2,850 affiliated doctors and other clinicians, and its specialties include orthopedics, advanced surgery, and maternity. Virtua is affiliated with Penn Medicine for cancer and neuroscience, and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for pediatrics. As a not-for-profit, Virtua is committed to the well-being of the community and provides innovative outreach programs that address social challenges affecting health, from addiction and other behavioral issues to lack of nutritious food and stable housing. A Magnet-recognized health system ranked by U.S. News & World Report, Virtua has received many awards for quality, safety, and its outstanding work environment. For more information, visit ThisIsVirtua.org. To help Virtua make a difference, visit GiveToVirtua.org.