The market will offer affordable produce and healthy food options that people will order online or at kiosks. This food will be prepared in the back of the store by workers, many of whom will be young people, said Robbie Brandon, director of the Healthy Family Market.
“We want people to come and easily get what they need on a daily basis,” she said. “We will teach economic development and workforce development at the same time.
The Marketplace is a new social enterprise that was founded by Sunlight Village, a non-profit organization focused on improving the mental health and well-being of young people and their families.
The family and child-friendly market will have products and educational information in the front of the store, while the back will have merchandise and supplies, and the space next to it will have wifi and places for people to hang out. meet and talk, Brandon said.
The new space will host educational sessions on select evenings focused on topics such as mental health and parenting, she said.
The new market, smoothie and cafe, located in the 2100 block of Germantown Street, will be built on the site of a former laundry that was recently demolished.
Local partners have raised around half of the funds needed for the project and they hope to raise the rest within the next eight to 12 months.
The size of the project could increase as the partners were able to acquire adjacent land from the Montgomery County Land Bank.
The market site is a few blocks from DeSoto Bass, one of Dayton’s oldest and largest public housing developments.
The Healthy Family Market project was developed after two years of resident-focused community planning efforts, said Jennifer Heapy, CEO of Greater Dayton Premier Management, the local public housing authority.
“It’s so exciting to see … the vision for this community come to fruition,” Heapy said, noting that federal funding helped pay for the planning work. “For communities and our families to succeed, they need neighborhoods with good amenities and access to services.
Dayton had the largest food desert in the nation, east of the Mississippi River, said Ambassador Tony Hall of the Hall Hunger Initiative.
But the opening of the Gem City Market last year means the community no longer holds that unwanted distinction, he said.
The Gem City Market food co-op was just the start, Hall said, adding that this new market is another step towards ensuring people have the food they need, which he says should be a ” fundamental human right.
“We will do everything to make it a success,” he said.
A few speakers on Friday said they or loved ones remembered a time when this area was booming and full of shops and businesses.
Brandon said she grew up in DeSoto Bass and the area was once home to grocery stores, hair salons, record stores, pharmacies, recreation centers and many other destinations.
“There was something everywhere – we have to bring that back,” she said. “I’m counting on this market to be a launch point…the market is just one piece of that vision.”
Project partners include GDPM, City of Dayton, Montgomery County, CityWide, Sunlight Village, Fifth Third Bank, Hall Hunger Initiative and Co-op Dayton.