Grocery store on wheels makes rounds in Milwaukee County

Apr 22, 2024

By: Patrick Paolantonio, WISN 12

MILWAUKEE — Before the truck pulled up and the doors opened for business, customers were already in place, waiting for its arrival. Margie Thompson was one of the first in line — ready to shop. “I’m here every month,” Thompson said.

Once a month, the truck hauls a converted car trailer to the parking lot at Thompson’s apartment community in Milwaukee. On this Tuesday afternoon, Thompson stepped inside the trailer with her list of items, ready to start buying groceries. From front to back, the trailer is lined on both sides with fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy, meat and other items.

“People have a lot of different varieties that they can choose from,” said Sherrie Tussler with Hunger Task Force.

It’s known as the Mobile Market. The non-profit Hunger Task Force owns and operates the one-aisle grocery store on wheels, while Piggly Wiggly stocks the food and sells it.

The mobile market is a smaller-scale grocery store. It’s not a food pantry, instead the market is open to everyone. Anyone can show up and shop. The market follows a set schedule and makes stops at various locations around Milwaukee County.

“What we look at is that there shouldn’t be a grocery store within a half mile,” Tussler said. “We do not need to compete with other grocery stores.”

According to Tussler, “We want to go to neighborhoods where there’s a distance that has to be traveled to get to a grocery store and where access is going to be low and the need is going to be high.”

That includes food deserts – areas where people have difficulty accessing fresh food and produce.

Tussler said the market has been in business for nearly a decade.

“What we found was that there was a sweet spot in serving senior complexes and agencies that serve people with disabilities. And the common theme, there is that elderly, blind or disabled people may have a hard time getting to the store, a harder time than most people,” Tussler said.

Lela Bolden is a first-time Mobile Market customer. “It means an awful lot,” Bolden said about the market coming to the customer. “I think that’s a great thing for people that’s housebound or elderly people that can’t get to the stores.”

People pay a discounted price at the Mobile Market. All items are 50% off, in part, thanks to a federal grant. Customers pay for their groceries with QUEST EBT (FoodShare), credit or debit cards. Cash is not accepted.

“$19.42, what a savings,” said Thompson, as she wrapped up her time in the market. With the discount, her bill came to less than $20 for coffee, pork, vegetables and other items. Thompson said she’s on a fixed income, and every dollar counts.

“It means a lot,” Thompson said, “because that way, I don’t have to drive and I can just come out here and save money at the same time.”

The next time the Mobile Market comes to her neighborhood in one month, she plans to be there, ready to shop.

WISN 12 is celebrating our 70th anniversary with a promise of more service to the community. We’re expanding our commitment to the Hunger Task Force, focusing on what the community needs most.



Hunger Task Force is Milwaukee’s Free & Local food bank and Wisconsin’s anti-hunger leader. The organization’s core values are Dignity, Justice, Equity, Compassion and Stewardship. Hunger Task Force feeds people today by providing healthy and culturally appropriate food to hungry children, families and seniors in the community absolutely free of charge. Hunger Task Force also works to end future hunger by advocating for strong public policies and nutrition programs at the local, state and federal level.