GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A fresh food market will be heading to Grand Rapids’ southeast side early next year.
The store will be called The South East Market. The owner, Alita Kelly, says she has been dreaming up the idea for five years.
“This is where I’m from. This is where my family has been and there’s definitely a need for access to whole foods,” said Kelly. “Right now, when we’re seeing all of these disparities in access when it comes to health care and education, food is one place for us to start.”
Kelly says the market will start out as an online store and delivery service. Farmers will be able to put inventory on the platform. Customers will be able to place food orders directly or have a box curated that will include foods best suited for their health needs.
Kelly says she has goals of eventually having a brick-and-mortar location.
There are currently only a handful of stores where southeast side neighbors can buy fresh foods. Kelly says it isn’t enough.
“We have plenty of liquor stores, corner stores where you can get chips and alcohol but nowhere where you can get eggs or chicken and rice for dinner tonight,” Kelly said. “Having those healthy foods are a direct link to your positive health outcome. So when you don’t have that access, you’re not supporting the people that need it the most.”
Kelly says the market will source their food from Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) and women farmers first.
She says while South East Market is for everyone, she hopes it will inspire more diversity in the agriculture field. Kelly also says she hopes it will help people from marginalized communities learn about and develop healthier lifestyles.
“I think it will help them to feel valued and cared for and I’m hoping that it will empower the next set of young farmers to have a more diverse field,” said Kelly.
Kelly says South East Market will have a soft launch in January. They’re hoping to open the brick-and-mortar store in two years.