COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The Mid-Ohio Food Collective is working to break the stigma of food insecurity every day with a brand-new approach to hunger.

“The families we serve are resilient, they’re resourceful, and they’re brave when they come and ask for help,” said Mike Hochron, of Mid-Ohio Food Collective.

And that help is now coming in the form of the Mid-Ohio Market, a hub designed to provide a grocery store experience while better addressing customer needs, including fresh produce and choices geared toward the neighborhoods they serve.

“We want this to be a place that beats stigma just by the experience itself,” said Hochron. “So, you come in, it’s bright, it’s open, you shop around, we’ve got great fresh produce a variety of fruits and vegetables and dairy and meat, and those products we know our families need.

“So a family can come in with children and they can shop just like you were in the grocery store and while you’re here maybe we can connect you to some other help around housing, health care, job training, child care.”

Groups like Physicians CareConnection have staff in-house to help the community with access.

“We don’t want people suffering because they don’t have access to what are basic services,” said Isi Green, the Executive Director of Physicians CareConnection “So being here and being available to help them understand where their resources are, so they don’t have to try to find them themselves, is very critical. Because it gets them the care and resources they need quickly.

“Like any other thing, the longer you let something go the worse it is, and we understand that it’s difficult. Some people even think, ‘I don’t even want to ask for help’ because somebody else may need it more than them. But you know what, we all need help sometimes, we are all vulnerable.

“So, we want to make sure that people know this is a place where we treat you like a human being. There is nothing wrong with asking for help. And hey, once you get help here you can always come back and volunteer and give that back.

“It’s really important that our community knows that we’re all in this together,” said Hochron. “That part of fighting against stigma is understanding that the families we serve, look like all of the families in our community.

“It’s people who are working sometimes one, two, three jobs, but still have trouble putting their budget together at the end of the month. It’s seniors, it’s kids, it’s veterans. And, so whatever your situation looks like, hunger affects all of us and we are all in this together to end hunger.”

The Mid-Ohio Food Collective will be operating five Mid-Ohio Markets around central Ohio by the end of the month. And just to put this in perspective, since Mid-Ohio Market at Norton road has opened, 43,819 individuals have been served.