CHESTER, Pa. (AP) — A southeastern Pennsylvania city will soon be getting its first supermarket in more than a decade, the project of a nonprofit organization best known for collecting and distributing emergency food aid, officials said.
Philabundance announced Friday that it had purchased a mostly vacant building in Chester that housed the city’s last supermarket before it closed in 2001.
In about a year, the organization says it hopes to open a new 13,000-square-foot “Fare and Square” grocery store. Bill Clark, the group’s president, says it is believed to be the first supermarket in the country operated by a food aid group as a nonprofit venture.
Officials say it will take about $4.5 million to buy and renovate the building, and about half of that has been raised through foundation and government grants and private donations.
U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, D-Pa., who represents Chester, said he has been talking to the U.S. Agriculture Department about federal aid, and funds are being sought elsewhere as well. “We will get there,” he told The Philadelphia Inquirer.
The federal department has designated Chester as a “food desert,” meaning an area with limited access to affordable and nutritious food.
Officials say the store, which they hope to open in late winter or early spring of 2013, will sell healthy food at low prices and also distribute some free food obtained through donations to Philabundance. They said the store would also help people apply for SNAP benefits, the new name for food stamps, and use them at the store.
The store would provide about 30 jobs in the hard-pressed community, but more importantly will provide healthy food for residents, Brady said.
“It’s important for the city’s children to get the fresh food and produce they need,” he said. “Chester has been a desert; now it will become an oasis.”
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