COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – A ribbon-cutting ceremony held Tuesday morning marks the official opening of the new Mid-Ohio Market at St. Stephen’s Community House in South Linden.

The market is backed by the Mid-Ohio Food Collective, which provides all the items at no cost. The idea behind this location and the four other Mid-Ohio markets is to help families make ends meet.

The director of the Food Nutrition Center at St. Stephen’s, Raymond Rhone, expects to serve at least 750 families a week. Once things get rolling, he thinks that number will be more like 1,000 families over the course of five days.

“The goal is to truly make this feel like a family-owned market, essentially where they know it’s a welcoming space,” Rhone said. “It’s a safe space you can come in, get your food, and don’t have to feel any type of way about it.”

Rhone knows a thing or two about helping families who need a boost; he’s in his fourth year as food nutrition coordinator at St. Stephen’s, located at 1500 East 17th Avenue.

“There are situations where life happens, you’re kind of down on your luck and you got to choose between the bills and food, so that’s what we’re here for, to bridge that gap,” he said.

This is where the new Mid-Ohio Market comes in. It will replace the old warehouse-style pantry that’s served generations of families. Workers and volunteers would fill boxes and deliver them curbside.

Rhone expects approximately 200 families from all parts of Franklin County to visit each day, Monday through Friday, selecting produce, meat, and even some personal hygiene items.

“If you open up a food box and there’s items in there that you can’t eat or you won’t eat, for whatever the reason may be, that’ll be disappointing and that’s your box for the week, so you’ll have to find another resource; spend time, money, gas,” he said. “This Mid-Ohio Market Transition is great because they get to come in, see what we have available, and they can get exactly what they want.”

Tuesday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony means the Mid-Ohio Market is officially open for business. While there are carts and items on the shelves, visitors won’t find a cash register in the market; all costs are covered.

“We think this transition will be beneficial for all those customers,” Rhone said.

Shoppers will notice each item will have a number on top of the shelf or on the cooler; the number will determine the maximum amount of the product consumers can take.

Each market also connects people to various services like healthcare, housing support, job training, and more. For more information on the Mid-Ohio Markets, click here.