Construction will begin soon on a fresh foods market in Linden. The facility will offer free food, health screenings, and other services. It’ll build upon the success of a similar market that opened a couple of years ago on the south side.
When the All People’s Fresh Market opened at 945 Parsons Avenue in March 2018, organizers hoped to replicate the concept. The faith-based group Community Development for All People, with help from the city of Columbus and the Mid-Ohio Foodbank, transformed a deserted liquor store into a fresh foods market with health and wellness screenings. The group’s executive director, Reverend John Edgar, says the Linden market will build from that success.
“That market serves over 500 shoppers a day, 5 days a week,” Rev. Edgar said of the All People’s Fresh Market. “It has become the largest point of distribution of free food anywhere in central Ohio, and it’s been reported to us that it’s one of the 20 busiest sites for distributing free food anywhere in the United States. So many people coming to a market that focuses exclusively on healthy foods is a testimony to the fact that people want to eat healthier and live healthier if they simply have access to the food. With the pandemic of COVID-19 unfolding among a legacy of generations of racial injustice and inequity, now having quality food as a social determinant of health is more important than ever before.”
The Linden market has about twice the space, and Rev. Edgar’s group will work with area commissions and residents to shape the community wellness programs. One piece will include prescriptions and a personalized model of care according to Charitable Pharmacy of Central Ohio executive director Jennifer Seifert.
“Imagine a place where you can get prescription medication and healthy food in one location,” Seifert said. “We all know that food and medicine go hand in hand. If you have high blood pressure, you need medication to prevent a heart attack or stroke. But so is healthy eating so important. If you eat healthy, you might need lower doses of your medication and perhaps be able to stop your medications. Through the one-on-one model of care, we’re very excited to walk with people as they combine medication and healthy foods and help them tailor that regimen for their best health.”
The city will contribute $1.5 million to the project with help from other partners.
“Nationwide Children’s Hospital and Community Development for All People are committing $300,000 to this effort,” Columbus Mayor Andy Ginther said. “The Charitable Pharmacy of Central Ohio will pay and operate the pharmacy that will provide such critical services to this neighborhood. Columbus Next Generation Corporation stepped up with $130,000 to this partnership. We know this will fill a hole in the neighborhood for access to fresh food and prescriptions.”
The Linden Fresh Market will be built on the site of the former Eagle Market at 1464 Cleveland Avenue, which had been a frequent stop for police calls before its closure in 2016. The South Linden Area Commission’s Lawrence Calloway welcomed the positive change.
“This will be an amazing building and an amazing possibility,” Calloway continued. “It should bring joy to us all that something that once offered pain, disruption, and confusion in the community is now being transformed into something that will offer health, wellness, healing, and hope.”
Officials expect the new market to be operating by early spring.