- This event has passed.
GRAND OPENING of the StarkFresh Grocery Store
October 6, 2020 @ 9:00 am - 7:00 pm
It’s been a long and arduous journey since the early months of this year when we began our push to open the StarkFresh Grocery Store in Downtown Canton. We’re writing this letter to update you on the progress of the project and share our official opening date. But first, we want to go back and retell the story of this Grocery Store project, sharing the victories and hardships we encountered along the way. We hope that as we share this story, it will become clear how integral the support of the Canton community has been to the current and future success of the store.
StarkFresh has been through many transformations since it was officially founded in 1983. As we developed programs that would combat hunger in Stark County, we learned countless lessons about the true nature of poverty and hunger. When our Mobile Grocery Market first took to the streets in 2014, we realized something important—any project that failed to engage directly with the community and address the causes of hunger instead of simply offering a band-aid solution would fail to truly serve the community. We became committed to meeting the people of Stark County where they were, recognizing the skills and insight they had to offer, and becoming their partners in a mission to tackle the causes of hunger by creating realistic pathways out of poverty. The Mobile Grocery Market, by bringing access to fresh, local produce to people’s front doors, was an important step down the road we’ve been on for 7 years. We started to develop programs like urban farming classes, workforce training, and nutrition education for kids at the local schools. Today, we feel proud of the progress we’ve made and are confident that our fight for food justice in Stark County will help bring security, sovereignty, and opportunity to our community.
Through our work on the Mobile Market, we also discovered the need for a brick-and-mortar grocery store, which would serve as a more permanent solution to the food access problem in the city of Canton. Through research, interviews, and casual conversation with our community partners, we learned how severe the state of food apartheid in Canton truly was. Most neighborhoods in the city were miles away from a grocery store, and the neighborhoods with the highest proportion of Black people experienced the most severe lack of access. Families that worked two or more jobs or lacked access to a vehicle experienced this even more acutely, since the nearest grocery store was often a long bus ride away. Convenience stores, which were closer to people’s homes and kept better hours, sold a meager selection of produce for exorbitant prices—community members shared that they sometimes paid up to $6 for a gallon of milk. We came to understand that our brick-and-mortar grocery store would have to prioritize accessibility and affordability for all.
In 2019, StarkFresh got the opportunity to move into a new building on Cherry Ave Northeast. This building, which had space for offices, a commercial kitchen, a large community room, and a storefront, was the perfect place to establish the StarkFresh Food Justice Campus. The location of the building was ideal; the SARTA main bus terminal was only a few blocks away. This meant that if we opened a grocery store, Canton residents from nearly any neighborhood could take one bus to the terminal and be at the store in minutes. The StarkFresh team—Tom, Allison, Katelynn, Miles, Panther, Douglas, Jesse, Kelly, and others—started to pour their energy into turning the storefront space into a grocery store.
Of course, we knew we couldn’t do it alone. This is when we reached out to the Stark County community. We launched our Honeycomb investment campaign, held socially distant volunteer days, and asked our supporters to talk to their friends and family about the project. Our supporters came out in force to help us with publicity, bureaucracy, fundraising, and construction. In every aspect of the project, it’s abundantly clear that without the support of friends, family, and community members, our success would have been impossible to achieve. We’ve always believed that a strong collaboration between a nonprofit and the community it serves can build something much greater than both, but the StarkFresh Grocery Store will exemplify this fact in a brand-new way.
The process has been a long one, and there were times when we worried that the pandemic would completely derail the project. But if you know anything about StarkFresh, you know that we utilize our strong community relationships, adapt under pressure, work crazy hours, find bizarre DIY solutions, and rely on one another to succeed in overcoming the odds and create something beautiful out of unlikely circumstances. We’re proud to announce that the StarkFresh Grocery Store will open to the public on Tuesday, October 6th, 2020. From 9am to 7pm that day, we will be celebrating our Grand Opening and we encourage you to come join in the celebration. We also hope that you’ll support us by telling your friends about the Grand Opening. Even if you can’t make it on the 6th, we encourage you to come downtown to shop with us once the store is open. We think you’ll find our products and prices are comparable to the ones our customers have come to expect at the Mobile Grocery Market.
Throughout this Grand Opening and our everyday business operations, coronavirus precautions like six-feet social distancing, capacity limits in the interior spaces, and face-covering compliance will, of course, be strictly enforced. Despite the challenging circumstances, we hope you’ll join us to celebrate the opening of the Grocery Store with many of our friends and supporters.
Beginning on October 6th, the StarkFresh Grocery Store will keep the following hours:
Thank you for everything you’ve done thus far to make this project a success. We hope that the StarkFresh Grocery Store can serve as an important resource to you and your neighborhood. If you don’t already, be sure to follow us on social media to stay up-to-date on our other programs: Suppertime Meals, the Southeast Supermarket, the Microbusiness program, and the Mobile Grocery Market. For more information, you can also visit our website at www.starkfresh.org. We’ll see you around town!
Your friends at StarkFresh