A south side Columbus group has expanded its fresh food market for low income residents in a unique way.
Mike Foley reports.
In January 2017, a drive-thru liquor store at 945 Parsons Avenue closed, leaving a dingy and deserted property. Today, it’s the new home for the All People’s Fresh Market – a project of the nearby faith-based group Community Development for All People or CD4AP. Executive Director Reverend John Edgar says it evolved out of the group’s partnership with Mid-Ohio Foodbank.
“What we were interested in doing was finding ways to supplement the diet of low income people, make it easier for them to have fresh fruits and vegetables because it’s expensive. So with the help of a variety of folks, we have control of this property. We have twice the space we had before. But even more important, we have this whole wall of coolers and now can refrigerate food and keep it for longer periods of time. Our store is now open five days a week.”
Rev. Edgar says he hopes low income residents shop at the market where fruit and vegetables are free and then use their food stamps or snap benefits at a grocery store. It’s all about encouraging people to eat healthier. That’s why the group holds cooking classes for residents. There are walking clubs, running groups, and community bike rides - all to reinforce the idea that everybody is a practitioner of health and wellness for themselves and their family.
Along with the fresh fruits and vegetables, there’s an ongoing rotation of groups promoting health and wellness inside the market. On this day, Local Matters set up a smoothie bar. Near that display, there’s a diabetes screening. And a constant every day will be representatives from Molina Healthcare of Ohio. President Ami Cole says it’s all about linking residents to their health care needs.
“Really more navigation of the health system and helping them get connected to the different resources. Some of those resources could be housing and transportation. They’re getting food and clothing here in the Community Development for All People campus. We can educate them on how to gain access to some of those other resources as well.”
Rev. Edgar sees this fresh market as a model to be replicated.
“It is part of the vision of Matt Habash of the Mid-Ohio Foodbank. We are anticipating that as this flourishes, there will be similar opportunities. I think it’s for people from their own neighborhood to say - this is what we want. We want to get rid of some of the liquor establishments, and we'd rather promote healthy living.”
For now, only those that meet eligibility guidelines can use the All People’s Fresh Market. By the summer, Rev. Edgar says fresh food will be available to purchase for those without any income restrictions as a way to support the Community Development For All People’s mission. It’s currently raising funds to expand the group’s impact on the south side.