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A Day in the Life of a MarketMobile Volunteer


Rakesh Misra is a volunteer with the MarketMobile and our guest blogger this month. The MarketMobile is a partner in our à la carte food literacy project. Stay tuned for outreach events with both the MarketMobile and the library mini-Bookmobile this summer.


Noon.  I start walking from my home near Bronson and Carling to 120 - 225 Donald Street, Rideau Rideau-Rockcliffe Community Resource Centre (RRCRC).  This is where MarketMobile starts and ends its day.


1:03 p.m.  7912 steps later, I arrive at RRCRC to start my day of volunteering on the MarketMobile.  Two other volunteers are already there to help out.  The MarketMobile trailer is in the process of being loaded with fresh produce...apples and grapes, cilantro and potatoes...good, fresh stuff...

I do this every week...and here’s why…


2:00 p.m.  We are ready to go.  Everything is loaded, all the produce has been placed into baskets and the prices calculated.  We are going to cover three markets today starting at Overbrook, then to Hunt Club East and finally Sandy Hill.


2:07 p.m. After driving around to look for a place to safely park (our usual stop is snowed in and blocked by a car), the MarketMobile is open for business…


2:08 p.m.  Our first customer in Overbrook…someone who followed us all the way from RRCRC (several blocks away)


Here are my favourite moments in Overbrook today…….


2:15 p.m.  A car drives up and parks right behind the MarketMobile trailer.  A man jumps out and looks at the price list posted outside our trailer. He asks if we have baby carrots.  He wants to buy some, but he has a young child in a car seat with him.   He says that he just wants the baby carrots.  I offer to get them for him and deliver them to his car.  But on second thought, I suggest that he come in and have a look.  He decides to use this as a teaching moment. He gets his child out of the car and they both walk in the trailer. “Look darling, a grocery store on wheels”.   Another volunteer walks up and offers the child some stickers.  The father buys strawberries, apples, green peppers, tomatoes, onions, grapes, kale, broccoli and, of course, baby carrots - not just one bag, but two!


This is what I achieved today; I helped provide a family with easier access to good, fresh and affordable food.  And maybe even helped a child understand that shopping for good, fresh food can be fun!

2:37 p.m.  A woman comes into the trailer and asks if we are income based. I say, “No, the MarketMobile is open to everyone” and “What are you cooking tonight”?  She’s planning a Thai stir fry and she buys carrots, green beans and cabbage.  I suggest that mangoes would add to the flavour and she buys mangoes.  I suggest green onions and she buys green onions.  I ask if she has garlic (because you need garlic for a good stir fry) and she buys garlic.  

This is what I achieved today; I helped to create a Thai stir fry...with good, fresh food.


3:00 p.m.  Our market in Overbrook has ended for this week. In one hour we served 19 customers. Nineteen families left the MarketMobile today with good, fresh and affordable food.


4:00 p.m.  Next up is Hunt Club East.  We park, put down the ramp at the back of the trailer and put out our price sign.  We’re open for business. 


4:04 p.m.  Our first customer arrives.  She has obviously been to the MarketMobile before.  She walks through the trailer with her shopping bag,  buying one of pretty much everything...a 10 lb bag of potatoes, a 3 lb bag of onions, a 3 lb bag of carrots.....she is one of our regular customers and knows the value and the quality that the MarketMobile offers.


Here is my favourite moment in Hunt Club East today…….


4:17 p.m.  A customer comes in and buys one of almost everything.  She has given herself a $20.00 limit to spend at the MarketMobile that day. Within that $20.00 limit she buys broccoli, spring onions, cooking onions, cauliflower, apples, some loose potatoes, squash, tomatoes, turnips...she buys and buys...and then she says that she has a bad back and can’t carry all this stuff to her house.  I offer to carry it home for her.  She has purchased a lot of fresh produce and it is a long walk to her house.  We walk and talk and talk and walk and I now know all about her daughter and the colour of her grand-daughter’s curtains!


This is what I achieved today.  I helped a person carry good, fresh food to her house and maybe even helped her feel a little less lonely. 


5:00 p.m.  Our market in Hunt Club East is closed for this week.  We served 17 customers.  That’s almost a customer every 4 minutes, in a very limited space, with lots of people hanging out, talking and laughing. The MarketMobile is a community gathering space. 


This is what I achieved today.  I became part of a community.


6:00 p.m.  Sandy Hill is the last market stop for today.  My work is done for today, but as I walk towards home, I see a line of customers waiting to come shop on the MarketMobile.  I see a trailer full of volunteers, putting on their green aprons, grabbing receipt books and getting ready for their turn to achieve something amazing today.  


6:48 p.m.  15,568 steps later I am home, weary from my walk, but happy for the favorite moments I lived today. 


This is the MarketMobile, 

Rakesh Misra



Market Mobile