Project by Morehead-Cain Scholars helps launch mobile market to combat food insecurity in Lexington, Kentucky

News & Spotlights | December 5, 2023
2022 Civic Collaboration Team Lexington

A summer internship project through Morehead-Cain’s Civic Collaboration program has come to fruition with the launch of the Lexington Mobile Market in Lexington, Kentucky, this past November.

The “aisle-on-wheels” initiative aims to combat food insecurity by increasing access to fresh produce, milk, and other staples. A 60-foot trailer will make sixty stops per month at twenty-six areas designated as food deserts in the city, according to Tiffany Brown, the equity and implementation officer for the City of Lexington’s Office of the Mayor and host for the 2022 Civic Collaboration team.

The group of scholars was instrumental in forming the implementation plan for the Lexington Mobile Market, Brown said.

“The work and dedication of the scholars were instrumental in accelerating this initiative from an idea to a reality,” she said. The scholars conducted interviews with community stakeholders and research for the project.

“We’re appreciative of the Morehead-Cain Foundation for supporting this work in increasing grocery access for Lexington residents.”

2022 Civic Collaboration Team Lexington comprised Foluwa Agbebi ’25, Noah Gottlieb ’25, Anna Mercer ’25, Sheidy Rios-Vazquez ’25, and Becca Segal ’25. Scholars typically participate in this Morehead-Cain Summer Enrichment Program before their second year at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

For Sheidy Rios-Vazquez ’25, the project allowed her to learn about developing complex solutions.

“Collaborating with the local government on the mobile market project showed me the importance of proactively addressing health inequities to uplift marginalized communities, as well as the significance of community engagement to empower these marginalized groups,” she said, saying the implementation plan included recommendations for sourcing food, selecting access points, building relationships with food retailers, and creating the food stop schedule.

“I am very grateful to have contributed to this initiative that will increase access to nutritious food choices and aid in reducing health disparities, and knowing that the Lexington residents will benefit from this is very fulfilling.”

Creating positive impact through service is at the heart of Civic Collaboration, said Montez Thomas, assistant director of scholar advising at Morehead-Cain and lead of the program.

“It’s not every day that we get to see the ripple effects of Civic Collaboration projects, many of which are initiatives that have been years in the making,” Thomas said. “Witnessing the tangible impact of the scholars’ efforts is deeply gratifying, and we’re thankful to the City of Lexington for partnering with Morehead-Cain to facilitate meaningful experiences for the students.”

During the Civic Collaboration summer, teams of scholars embed themselves in cities across the U.S., investigate those communities’ challenges and opportunities, and propose real solutions. Interested in learning more? Contact Montez Thomas at

Learn more about the Morehead-Cain Summer Enrichment Program.

The Lexington Mobile Market (photo courtesy City of Lexington)