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Development News

One of area's few suburban food deserts, Chester, gets a lift from Philabundance's nonprofit grocery

It’s a well-known fact that many low-income neighborhoods in Philadelphia are food deserts, meaning there is no grocery store or other source of fresh foods nearby. The city of Chester in Delaware County must be the Gobi Desert of food deserts, as the entire city is currently without a supermarket. This is despite the recent construction of both a soccer stadium and a casino. However, this is about to change as Philabundance, with the help of the Delaware Valley Regional Economic Development Fund, recently acquired a building to open up a non-profit grocery store.

The grocery store will be called Fare and Square, and will be located on Ninth St., a few blocks south of Highland Ave. Lindsay Bues, a spokeswoman for Philabundance, reports that Fare and Square will sell both deeply-discounted and free food, and will accept and teach the community about Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. “This model promotes food equality by offering a full range of food products at one convenient location on a regular basis while allowing people to maximize their purchasing power,” reports Bues.

Chester’s first grocery store is made possible through a $1 million grant through the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. This grant will comprise a good chunk of the $4.5 million price tag behind offering fresh food. According to Bues, the store will take up 13,000 sq. ft. and provide 30 new jobs, many of which will go to local residents. The store will likely open its doors in about a year.

Local and federal lawmakers are still trying to get a bigger supermarket to open in Chester, and it sounds like they might be close. Two chains that might be interested in opening are Shop Rite and Fresh Grocer, although nothing is firm at this moment. There’s no word on what will happen to Fare and Square when a larger grocery store does set up shop. 

Writer: Andy Sharpe
Source: Lindsay Bues
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