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New "South East Market' hopes to bridge access to healthy, local food

Posted at 7:00 PM, Oct 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-29 19:00:21-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich — There’s a new market coming to the Southeast side of Grand Rapids, hoping to bridge access to healthy and affordable food.

Co-Founders of The South East Market, Alita Kelly and Khara DeWit are excited to see big things happening right where they live.

Their mission statement is "To increase access to healthy and culturally appropriate food for our community through a sustainable and equitable lens."

Kelly said, “While I was managing food nutrition programs in the city and living in this area, I noticed this huge discrepancy in wanting to feed my own family healthy, fresh food, and feeling like it was out of reach in walking distance."

The South East Market is more like a food hub, sourcing produce, dairy, meat, and other goods from right here in Michigan. Especially from people of color, and women-owned businesses.

“It allows all of us to have a role in the food system and equity in the food system by lifting up our neighbor, “Kelly said.

When you shop, you'll also have the chance to help others through the markets 'Pay it Forward Program’ where you can donate once, or monthly to help others purchase what they need.

Kelly explained, “We use those dollars to make some of our more high-end products accessible to our neighbors."

While you can't shop in-store just yet, DeWit said people are always stopping by to ask questions.

“When we tell them that we are a grocery store here for you, they are really excited they say ‘We haven't had this, like we are so excited to come shop here,’" she said.

Kelly added that access to healthy food is important now more than ever.

“If you're looking at food as medicine, which we need to do in regards to supporting our immunity and staying safe through COVID, spaces like this that support the local food economy and view food as medicine are going to be essential,” she said.

The pair hopes their space will serve as an educational and cultural hub for a zip code that tends to get overlooked.

“I hope that I can represent and be a symbol for hope and the type of leadership that we really need to empower right now, young folks, young women, people of color that want to do good in our neighborhood,” Kelly said.

They also hope to show what's possible when you invest in the people and businesses around you.

DeWit said, “Part of the reason why we want to stick with a for-profit model, is to build generational wealth, so that the money that gets poured into this business, we also want to see families flourish, our own families, but also families in our communities. Some of that profit will be fed right back into the community."

Shoppers can order food for curbside pickup or have groceries delivered within a 3 mile radius of their store on Kalamazoo Ave SE.

The goal is to allow in-person shopping in January once the market gets approved to accept SNAP and MI Bridge Cards.