Since opening last month, America’s first nonprofit grocery store is bringing fresh and affordable fruits, vegetables, meat and dairy to Chester, Pa., a community that has struggled to find healthy food options since the city’s last supermarket closed in 2001.
Chester, home to 35,000 people, has been designated a food desert, a low-income area lacking easy access to healthy food, by the US government. For the residents of Chester the Fare & Square grocery store — seven years in the making — is a welcome relief: “It’s a beautiful supermarket,” said employee Geraldine Carter.
The store is the brainchild of Bill Clark, the executive director of Philabundance, a nonprofit hunger relief organization. Chester has a 36 percent poverty rate and unemployment is 13 percent. Clark said at one time Chester had five grocery stores, but they all closed when the city fell on hard times after manufacturing virtually disappeared.