It’s the rare and lucky shopper who gets a warm welcome simply for entering a grocery store. But when you’re shopping at a Twin Cities Mobile Market and Abdifatah Nur is on board, get ready to feel the love.
“You just have to know how to say, ‘Welcome!’ or ‘Thank you,’ ” said the gregarious Nur, a Mobile Market staffer who offers those greetings in seven languages, from Spanish to Arabic to Korean.
“That small thing goes a long way,” he said.
Speaking of small things that go a long way, I’m happy to report the Twin Cities Mobile Market, a retrofitted Metro Transit bus loaded with grocery goodness, expanded in May from one bus to two, and from St. Paul to Minneapolis.
The second bus, chock full of affordable and fresh fruits and vegetables, milk, meat, cheese, bread and more, includes stops in north Minneapolis and Cedar-Riverside — two areas designated as “food deserts” by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. If you’ve never lived in a food desert, and especially if you’ve never heard the term, consider yourself lucky.
The designation means that residents must travel more than a mile to get to a supermarket. Doesn’t sound like much? It is if you’re a senior who no longer drives, or a person with a disability, or someone on a limited income for whom weekly trips to shop by bus or cab add up fast.
Minnesota, sadly and surprisingly, is a leader in food deserts.