Tara Greco is senior director in APCO Worldwide’s corporate responsibility practice.
The first step to eating right is having easy access to healthy foods. Sadly, many U.S. neighborhoods do not have a supermarket or grocery store offering a variety of fresh, healthy options. We know from our friends at Share our Strength that without access, families are challenged to prepare and eat budget-friendly healthy, tasty meals.
Chester, Penn., lawmakers collaborated with Sunoco to address this exact challenge in their community. This Philly suburb hasn’t had a grocery store in more than 10 years—the very definition of a food desert. That status will change in the coming months due to this unique public-private partnership.
In spring 2013, the first non-profit supermarket will open in Chester. “Fare & Square” will be managed and operated by Philabundance, a food bank and hunger organization in the Delaware Valley. The store’s shelves will not carry soda, chips or beauty products. Management will take advantage to the store’s location in close proximity to South Jersey’s farmland to provide local, seasonal produce on a regular basis. The food security community across the country will be watching closely as Fare & Square gets up and running—it’s success could spur similar markets in other food deserts.
I’m also eager to follow this story—this seems like a great environment to layer on healthy cooking demonstrations, health-screenings, nutrition education programs and exercise programs. It could become a safe place for families to convene and a convenient location for health and education services. Fare & Square has the makings to be a true community health hub in Chester—I wish them luck in this venture!