CONGRESSMAN BRADY ANNOUNCES SITE ACQUISITION FOR PHILABUNDANCE’S COMMUNITY FOOD CENTER IN CHESTER
BRADY CALLS new center “AN OASIS IN THE CHESTER FOOD DESERT”
Philabundance Unveils Fare & Square as the Name for the Community Food Center
Chester, Pa.- February 24, 2012- Congressman Robert A. Brady joined a group of elected officials and stakeholders today to announce the site acquisition for Philabundance’s community food center in Chester – a $4.5 million project modeled as a non-profit grocery store that will be housed in a 21,000 square foot building. The community food center is an innovative approach to improving food access and equality, while alleviating food insecurity.
Congressman Brady said, “Today much of this site is a vacant building but in the near future it will become an oasis – transforming Chester from a food desert to a community no longer threatened by food insecurity.”
Brady continued, “The men and women who have dedicated their time and energy to making today happen represent the best in their fields: elected officials from Governor Corbett to Mayor Linder, and State Representative Kirkland who have leveraged public dollars to maximize efforts to fight hunger; non-profits such as Philabundance, the Delaware Valley Regional Economic Development Fund, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation who will bring on-line this first-of-its-kind food center, offering a non-profit retail experience along with food assistance making the dream of this oasis a reality.”
Philabundance unveiled the name “Fare & Square” for the planned non-profit grocery store that will serve as a community food center offering the lowest prices possible, along with a variety of food free of charge. Fare & Square will accept SNAP benefits and offer SNAP outreach as a resource to the residents of Chester. 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.
The West side of Chester is one of the 35 food deserts in the Delaware Valley according to the USDA’s food desert locator. Fare & Square will deliver reliable access to food staples, including fresh produce, through a non-profit retail shopping experience. Residents will not need to leave the city limits for nutritious foods once Fare & Square is open. Philabundance hopes to replicate this model in other communities in the Delaware Valley.
“Today marks a new day for Philabundance, and a new day for Chester—as we prepare to create a new gateway to the City with the Fare & Square initiative, said Bill Clark, executive director of Philabundance.” “We could not be more excited to stand here today, to lead this partnership to build a community food center for Chester. With the realization of this initiative, the residents of Chester will have access to affordable and nutritious food right around the corner in a setting that provides the dignity and respect that they deserve.”
In November of 2011, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation awarded Philabundance with a $1 million grant; the majority of the grant will support the community food center model. The grant will help Philabundance address food access equality and improve hunger relief in the Delaware Valley.
“All Americans deserve the right to healthy, affordable food. It is vital to the health and well-being of all people,” said Fred Mann, vice president, communications at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “We are happy to be able to assist Philabundance in its effort to serve the needs of the people of Chester. Breaking up a food desert is always a win for everyone.”
John Coffman, executive director of the Delaware Valley Regional Economic Development Fund (DVREDF) – the fund spearheading today’s acquisition — said, “DVREDF is focused on creating jobs and helping to stimulate the local economy. This project is directly in line with our mission as it will employ nearly 30 individuals in addition to countless short-term construction positions. We are excited to be a part of this new initiative that provides Chester residents with employment opportunities and access to fresh and affordable healthy foods.”
Philabundance will renovate the vacant portion of the building and create 30 new jobs in Chester, hiring from the community whenever possible. Fare & Square will operate in 13,000 square feet of the 21,000 square foot building and Family Dollar resides in the remaining 8,000 square feet. Fare & Square will be clean, well-lit, attractive, convenient and friendly. Philabundance will be working with community groups and social service organizations to provide services that are needed by the community.
DVREDF joins other critical supporters such as Wawa, Sunoco, PPL, the MKM Foundation Socket Labs and many individuals who saw the promise of this new and innovative approach to strengthening the hunger safety net in Chester. Their early support has allowed us to arrive at this critical juncture in the project. Two regional banks offered financing for the acquisition of the building.
Philabundance has been serving the residents of Chester for more than 20 years and provides food to 14 member agencies in the city, 11 of which are food pantries. The food center will be a supplement to the agencies that already help those in need of food assistance. Philabundance’s strategy to help build agency capacity is essential to strengthening the hunger safety net. The recent Robert Wood Johnson grant includes $100,000 to help Philabundance expand their distribution and quantity of food through the agency network.
For more information on Fare & Square, please visit www.philabundance.org/chesterfoodaccess or call the toll free number 877-366-2226. For more information on helping Philabundance fund this program please call Marianne Lynch at 215-339-0900 x 1102.