Cook county residents receive free produce at mobile markets

Woman wearing a mask standing at a informational table with flyers and handouts

December 13, 2021

HARVEY, Ill. - Throughout Illinois, SNAP-Ed works with communities and families who have the greatest need to provide nutrition and healthy living education and increase access to healthier foods. For many participants, higher cost can be a barrier to purchasing fresh produce. 

In Cook County, SNAP-Ed works with participants in various communities, including Harvey, Riverdale, and Dixmoor. In this area, over 21,000 people are eligible for SNAP benefits and 53% of the population are 185% below the poverty level. In Harvey specifically, the population estimate is 24,408 and 32.8% persons in that community live in poverty. 
Dominique Cobbs, a SNAP-Ed educator coordinating efforts in Cook County to create better access to healthy foods for local residents, forged a mobile market partnership between SNAP-Ed, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, and the Family Christian Health Center. Local families can come to these events and can select fruits and vegetables for their families at FCHC. These events are open to anyone in need who lives in the community.
For these monthly markets, BCBS purchased produce from local farmers. Residents received two or three bags of fresh produce and health information from BCBSIL and FCHC. The fresh produce included lemons, zucchini, collard greens, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, cucumber, cabbage, oranges, celery, bell pepper, garlic, carrots, and onions. Cobbs also provided nutrition messaging via SNAP-Ed, using both MyPlate and Eat. Move. Save. nutrition education and recipes matching the produce available. These printed materials give participants ideas of how they can use the fresh produce at home. 

“This is a great opportunity to have collaboration amongst local partners, all seeing the needs to address food insecurity in Harvey,” said Mia Cross, BSN, Community Health & Programs Director at Family Christian Health Center.

The mobile markets took place between May and August 2021. On average, 75-120 families visited the markets each month with about 260 individuals impacted. FCHC has applied for a grant to keep future efforts going in 2022. Their goal is to schedule a distribution once per week for at least forty weeks, or until funding is exhausted. They will distribute 25 boxes of produce every week to residents using FCHC health services and open the market to the whole community once per month. Cobbs also plans to have additional SNAP-Ed team members to provide interactive nutrition education and invite participants to attend upcoming SNAP-Ed events and classes. 

For more information, contact Dominque Cobbs at

Story Source
Dominique Cobbs, SNAP-Ed educator