City to begin bus service to Columbia Farmers' Market

Monday, April 2, 2012 | 2:29 p.m. CDT; updated 11:28 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, April 3, 2012
The Columbia City Council passed a contract with the Columbia Farmer's Market to provide two buses stopping through west-central and central Columbia to the Columbia Farmer’s Market, paid for through a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant. The USDA seeks to increase access to direct markets and prioritizes areas designated as food deserts.

COLUMBIA — A city bus will now run on Saturday mornings to give residents better access to the Columbia Farmers' Market.

The route begins at 7:45 a.m. at Rollins Road and Maryland Avenue on the MU campus, and will run to the Columbia Farmers' Market in the parking lot of the Activity and Recreation Center, 1701 W. Ash St., according to a news release from the city of Columbia. The bus will run in 30-minute cycles until 11:45 a.m.

The route will run every Saturday until Oct. 27. It is being funded by a U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farmers Market Promotion Program grant.


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Richard Saunders April 2, 2012 | 4:58 p.m.

I wonder what excuse will given once it becomes obvious that college students do not desire to get on a bus at 7:45 AM to go to the a farmer's market?

First we have the fake problem of a "food desert" (which is really a university). Now we have a fake solution to "solve" it.

Finally, we will have completely unaffordable food as "free-money" has a much higher cost, the decay of society. As always, there is no such thing as a free lunch. What there is instead, is tomorrow's lunch served today.

Why nobody ever bothers thinking about the lack of a future that we've already consumed can only be summed up as insanity.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking April 2, 2012 | 5:48 p.m.

Richard Saunders wrote:

"I wonder what excuse will given once it becomes obvious that college students do not desire to get on a bus at 7:45 AM to go to the a farmer's market?"

From the article:

"The bus will run in 30-minute cycles until 11:45 a.m.. [sic]"

I'll be interested to see how many people ride this. When I go (early - best selection) I never see students. Plus, most of them have cars anyway, so if they wanted to go, they'd go.

Some of the students I work with go occasionally, but the problem is not the bus, it's the hours of the market itself.

I'm not thinking this will be something popular.


(Report Comment)
Elizabeth Laubach April 3, 2012 | 12:05 p.m.

Hello, this is Elizabeth Laubach, the reporter who wrote this story as well as the original story about this issue. Thank you for sharing your comments on this story, as well as the original one. We appreciate the feedback on our reporting very much.

I see that Richard Saunders raised a question on the definition of a food desert in comments on both articles. The definition given by the U.S. Department of Agriculture is "urban neighborhoods and rural towns without ready access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food."

To go a bit further, the U.S. Department of Agriculture identifies food deserts by separating census tracts and then analyzing whether they are:
1. "low-income communities" meaning that there is a poverty rate of 20% or greater or a median family income at or below 80 percent of the area median family income AND
2. "low-access communities" meaning that at least 500 persons and/or at least 33% of the population lives more than one mile from a supermarket or large grocery store

Also, "areas that are not in a designated Food Desert census tract may still be eligible for funding."

Caroline Todd, the director of the Columbia Farmers' Market, stressed to me the importance of routing the bus through "under-served neighborhoods."

To Mark Foecking: We are working on doing a follow-up to this, which would include a photographer and/or a reporter riding the bus to document who is using it, what their background is and why they are riding the bus.

Please inform me if there is any more need of clarification or any questions. Thank you and have a great day.

Elizabeth Laubach

(Report Comment)

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