Philabundance, a Philadelphia-based hunger-relief organization, has announced plans to open what it is calling the first nonprofit grocery store in the country.
With support from the Nonprofit Finance Fund, the Reinvestment Fund, and TD Bank, the organization will open Fare & Square, a 13,000-square-foot grocery store next spring on the west side of Chester, a city that has been without a grocery store for eleven years and one of thirty-five USDA-designated food deserts in the Delaware Valley. To fulfill its mission of providing greater food access to the residents of Chester, the store will sell nutritious food staples at low prices, with a focus on fresh produce, meats, dairy, and seafood.
Qualified shoppers who sign up for a free annual membership will receive a percentage of their purchases back as "Fare & Square Bucks" that can be applied to future purchases. The store also will accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Women Infant and Children benefits. Philabundance eventually hopes to replicate the model in other Delaware Valley communities.
The project has received support from members of both parties in Congress, as well as Sunoco, which has donated more than $750,000 in fuel to Philabundance since 2005 and chipped in $200,000 for hunger-relief efforts in the state's 1st congressional district, including $100,000 for Fare & Square's capital needs. "Today's ceremony is groundbreaking not just in bringing food to Chester," said Rep. Bob Brady (D-PA), "it is groundbreaking in the effort that got us here: an effort in which elected officials reached across partisan lines to bring food into this food desert."