Premier Health today announced a donation of $400,000 toward a new grocery store proposed for an area of west Dayton that has limited access to fresh food.
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The hospital system will contribute $80,000 each year for five years toward the Gem City Market, a grocery opening in 2019 on Salem Avenue just across the Great Miami River from downtown.
“This is a huge step forward for us not just in terms of the gift, but in partnership with an organization like Premier,” said Lela Klein, executive director Greater Dayton Union Co-op Initiative, the group raising money to get the market built.
Mary Boosalis, Premier’s president and CEO, was joined by former ambassador Tony Hall presenting a check to Gem City Market officials. Hall, also the region’s former Democratic congressman, served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Agency for Food and Agriculture and returned to Dayton to start The Hall Hunger Initiative in 2015. The initiative is a partnership with the United Way of the Greater Dayton Area to collaborate with community stakeholders to reduce food insecurity.
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The ability to shop for affordable, nutritious food in a vast area of Dayton was already a struggle for many residents long before a fire destroyed an East Dayton store in November and an international grocery chain announced this month it was leaving Westown Shopping Center on the other side of the city, said organizers.
Organizers formed the Greater Dayton Union Co-op Initiative in 2015 to help alleviate an area food desert and bring sustainable jobs to the area.
The area that will be served by for the Gem City Market is considered a “food desert” based on the U.S. Department of Agriculture definition where more than 40 percent of the population lives more than a mile from a supermarket and has an income at 200 percent of the federal poverty line or lower.
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The group embarked on a fundraising campaign to raise $4.2 million which also included selling shares in the store for $100, which are also available on a subsidized basis to those with low incomes.
The goal is to have a 15,000-square-foot, full-service grocery up and running in the 100 block of Salem Avenue in 2019.