Pop up grocery store helps the Midland’s hungry

Columbia,SC (WOLO)— Now that the Save-A-Lot grocery on Harden Street in the Edgewood Neighborhood closed its doors, some say it has made an already dire situation worse when it come being able to access food in that community’s of Columbia, SC.

To make things a little easier on residents directly impacted by the shut down, several community organizations,
including Eat Smart Move More SC, FoodShare SC, and the City of Columbia Food Policy Committee will host
a “Pop Up Grocery” event on Wednesday, September 4 from 3:00 PM until 6:00 PM at the FoodShare Food Hub located at 2016 Harden Street.

At this location, organizers say residents who are in need will be able to purchase a box of fresh
produce,  milk, rice, beans and eggs for $5 dollars SNAP/EBT or $5 dollars in  cash. Bread will also been donated by
Panera Bread.

The goal is to be able to serve 300 households in low food access areas, but only on a first come, first serve basis.

One of the event organizers, Ashley Page says,

The grocery business is tough. It’s low margin, highly competitive, and cash and debt intensive. The average supermarket operates on a 1 or 2% profit margin and must be sustainable for at least a decade to recoup any profit.”

Beverly Wilson, Executive Director of FoodShare, an alternative fresh food access distribution and cooking skills
program added that,

“Our families in the 29203 and other low income zip codes have been particularly impacted.”

In addition to the planned “Pop-Up Grocery” taking place September 4th, 2019, community advocates are also working on other ways to help with long and short term solutions.

In 2017, the Columbia City Council passed a resolution to create the first municipal Food Policy Committee in South Carolina to gather and address issues found within food production, consumption, and distribution with the primary focus on finding solutions to problems that promote sustainability, economic development, and social justice in the food system of the Columbia and surrounding areas.

The group has also formed a food equity subcommittee who has been working directly with community residents to better understand their challenges in accessing fresh, healthy foods.

Residents biggest concern out of a series of five listening sessions  that were held in various areas, was the the loss of health food retail in their community.

On August 14, 2019, the Food Policy Committee voted to unanimously pass a set of recommendations that will be be shared with city council including providing tax incentives or subsidies to help recruit and retain health food retailers in low food access communities.

FoodShare is also working on alternative healthy food options as they hope to expand their reach by
partnering with churches, clubs, organizations, and clinics.

We don’t want zip code to determine a family’s health status so we are actively looking for groups who would be willing to take orders for Fresh Food Boxes as well as those who are interested in hosting their own produce pop-up market. Getting healthy food into neighborhoods and communities where healthy grocery stores don’t exist is our priority,”

Besides bringing nutritious food access to the people, organizers say they want to empower organizations and groups to run their own markets and they plan to help by giving them tools and training to manage operational aspects of the market.

If you have a group interested in starting their own pop shop send inquiries to info@foodsharesc.org

Categories: Health, Local News