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For the past decade, a small commercial strip roughly one mile from Turner Field in South Atlanta has acted as a community hub. For much of that time, a thrift store there has sold low-cost clothing and provided jobs. An adjoining coffee shop opened and hosted neighborhood meetings and monthly meet-ups with the area's school board representative. And a bicycle shop teaches neighborhood kids how to fix two-wheelers. But finding a head of lettuce hasn't been easy.
Next week, the thrift store will evolve into something different: the Carver Neighborhood Market, a 2,000-square-foot grocery store in the middle of an area lacking healthy food options. The ambitious endeavor, a fraction of the size of your typical Kroger, faces challenges but could help bring a new local business to the neighborhood, boost other surrounding communities, and chip away at food deserts in metro Atlanta, where more than half a million people live farther than one mile from a supermarket.
"People are paying more either in time or money than they should be," says Jeff Delp of FCS Urban Ministries, a local nonprofit that in 2003 bought a liquor store and opened the thrift shop in its place. "One way we can help our neighbors without giving things away is to allow them to shop and get a deal. If we can bring affordable food here, it helps them in a multitude of ways."
The views expressed here belong to the speaker and do not necessarily represent Food Well Alliance.