"Nonprofit grocery stores are springing up with renewed fervor to address worsening food insecurity nationwide … Such efforts are addressing budget, equity and mobility issues for families struggling to get fresh and healthy groceries."
Here are some facts behind the trend:
"According to the latest USDA data, 76 U.S. counties lack even a single grocery store … Many others have only one store, and the quality of the offerings can vary widely … People living in areas where healthy food is scarce face an increased risk of chronic health conditions and cardiovascular issues, per a 2019 study in the Journal of the American Heart Association."
The story notes that "while some nonprofit grocers are struggling or closing up shop entirely due to pandemic-era financial challenges, others are thriving.
"St. Louis, Missouri's MARSH Grocery Cooperative, for example, has stayed afloat in part thanks to a 'pay what you can' model."
- KC's View:
This is a real problem, and different communities are coming up with varying solutions.
Check out this National Public Radio (NPR) piece about how, "about five years ago, Emerson, Neb., lost its grocery store. Residents were forced to drive at least 20 miles to stock their pantries at the nearest full-service store.
"Then last year this village of 824 people came together to open a new market. They raised nearly $160,000 of their own money — double their initial fundraising goal. And Post 60 Market was born.
"The cooperatively owned store moved into the old American Legion building. It sells a full range of groceries, including fresh produce, meat, and household supplies.
"Investors receive discounts and dividends and elect a board of directors each year to oversee large financial decisions."
The NPR story also cites the statistic about how "76 counties nationwide are without a single grocery store," which I still find extraordinary.
But the larger lesson from both stories is that stores can best succeed if both customers and employees feel in some way invested in them. That can mean literally, or it can be less tangible. But emotional, and sometimes financial, investment can provide an enormous advantage.