COLUMBUS (WCMH) — A neighborhood that has been deprived of a convenient healthy food option now has just that.
The Linden Fresh Food Market opened this week, trying to make healthy foods more easily available to those who need them.
The market used to be an old, rundown, abandoned corner store. Now, it offers the Linden neighborhood fresh, healthy food alternatives.
The corner of Chittenden and Cleveland avenues in South Linden is now home to fresh, free food.
“It’s great because I feel like that’s what we need in our community,” said resident Shelisa Williams.
Plans for the market were first announced by Mayor Andrew Ginther about a year and a half ago. At the same time, Williams was excited the former rundown property would be changing. Now, she’s happy it’s open.
“Something that’s local, something that’s within range of not always having to get on a bus or get in a car to commute to,” said William, who lives about ¼ of a mile from the market. “Like myself with my wheelchair, a lot of the things I have to make preparation, that I can just get in my chair and go right there to it.”
The non-profit Columbus Next Generation Corporation purchased the property and turned it around: a free pharmacy on one side and a free market on the other.
Columbus Next Generation Corporation Executive Director Boyce Safford said the South Linden area has food options, but nothing healthy and walkable like the new Linden Fresh Market.
“There needs to be a direct food option that eliminates travel, carrying, distance, from the community,” Safford said.
Those who qualify get the food for free. Market manager Isaac Baez estimates hundreds of people will be helped each day, and he knows firsthand how it can benefit the community.
“It means a lot,” he said. “I grew up in Linden, been on food stamps before, low-income households, and I think for something…if I were to have this when I was younger, it would just have helped my family so much because a lot of the stuff we have here.”
The market is currently in a soft opening, with a grand opening scheduled for Sept. 27. The market will be open Tuesdays through Saturdays.