How I Get High Quality Locally Grown Organic Groceries at a Subsidized Price from Facebook Community Mobile Market

The Facebook Community Mobile Market is where I get my locally-grown organic groceries in East Palo Alto at a subsidized price.

Today is Sunday, January 9, 2022. It is 9am as I am writing this blog post and on any other week at this time I would be driving from East Palo Alto to the Belle Haven library to pick up high-quality locally grown organic groceries provided by Facebook to the local community for a highly subsidized price. This week the market is closed as they are reorganizing for the new year, so I figured I would use this time to share with the community what the Facebook Community Mobile Market is. You can check out their website here:

FB Community Mobile Market
The Facebook Community Mobile Market’s goal is to serve affordable food to communities where fresh, quality produce is not easily accessible. We source organic produce, directly from local farmers to sell at a subsidized rate to local residents of Belle Haven & East Palo Alto.

When I first moved to East Palo Alto, I was asking my neighbor where he bought groceries since we do not have a lot of grocery stores around - yes, there are grocery stores like Gardenas and some small grocery stores like Pal Market and La Estrellita but there are no mainstream grocery stores like Trader Joe's or Safeway that cater more to a Non-Hispanic crowd. My neighbor told me he gets his groceries through this amazing community benefit called the Facebook Community. Because Facebook's campus is only one mile away from East Palo Alto - and because Facebook acknowledges that their presence has expedited gentrification, added traffic, etc - Facebook offers community benefits to try to be a good neighbor, have good PR, etc. I heard that before the pandemic, Facebook used to throw parties for the Belle Haven and East Palo Alto communities on their One Hacker Way campus parking lot and they used to have in-person farmer's market-styled subsidized food events. During the pandemic, Facebook shifted to a car drive-up style where you order the food online first and then people will grab the food for your order and load it into your car.

What types of produce do I get at the Facebook Community Mobile Market? Basically, if you walk down the aisles at Whole Foods, those are the exact same brands that we get. I can get a vegetable box for $15 through Facebook which would cost at least $30 - $40 at Whole Foods. Also, there is no tax at Facebook. The flagship product the Facebook Community Mobile Market offers is the "Classic Meal Deal", where you get a bundle of ingredients valued at $60 for $15. Here is an example from my experience buying groceries around a year ago on January 10, 2021.

I arrived at the Belle Haven Branch Library at 8:57am, around a 5 to 10 minute drive from East Palo Alto depending on which part of East Palo Alto you drive from. I was lucky to have a short line since I arrived early.
Here is a photo of the mobile market setup which includes refrigerated trucks.
The staff has very cool sweatshirts and they load food in the trunk. Also the staff are all so friendly and happy, huge shoutout to them! Like Mandy!
This is what my trunk looked like. The box on the right is the vegetable box. The big bag to its left is the meal deal, and the rest are a la carte items.
These are items I got in the $15 meal deal which is meant to feed 4 people. Note that I think the butcher's chicken box in the back left may have been an a la carte item because the middle bag is raw chicken.
These are some a la carte items that I purchased.
This is the $15 vegetable box filled with locally-grown organic produce. When I walked the aisles at the Whole Foods in Palo Alto, they were literally from the same Coke Farm brand.
Fruit bag which included oranges and apples.
Here is a screenshot from my receipt for the groceries. Note that there is no tax.

In 2021 I placed around 35 orders. There are 52 weeks in the year and the Community Mobile Market closes on big holidays, so they have around 45 to 48 weeks when we can order a year. There were some weekends where I was not home so I could not order. In total, I spent an average of around $70 per order multiplied by 35 weeks is around $2,450. If I had bought groceries at a grocery store, I would have expected the produce price to have been at least double, so saving me $2,450 a year while also getting higher quality produce.

I love how the meal deal often has exciting things thrown in. One of my most memorable weeks was when there was a very fancy almond butter glass bottle included in the meal deal. I looked it up and the bottle alone sold for $28 online. It is a pretty amazing deal for a $15 meal deal, and it also introduced me to a cool new brand. Another week I liked was a Hawaiian themed week where the meal deal had kalua pork, Hawaiian bread rolls, coconut milk, and other Hawaiian ingredients.

Many East Palo Alto residents already know about the Facebook Community Mobile Market, and I often find this to be a topic that breaks the ice between strangers. For instance, when I got my haircut at Siry's Salon for the first time, we shared stories about what foods we were excited about from the market. I have also introduced the market to many people in East Palo Alto and they love it.

In conclusion, I hope you have learned something new about this great perk that we have in East Palo Alto. Outsiders might look at our grocery store landscape and call this a "food desert." Sometimes neighbors will also call this a "food desert" because of the lack of restaurants and grocery stores compared to neighboring cities like Palo Alto and Mountain View. But if you have been here long enough, you will see that we have non-traditional ways of getting high-quality groceries. Many residents also get their foods from various food banks in the city like the Ecumenical Hunger Program or in front of the Mouton Multicultural Wellness Center. I feel very grateful to have this amazing community benefit as a resident of East Palo Alto.

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