Business Connections: Dayton's Food Desert
Hello. And welcome to business connections, I'm Holly Allen director of marketing and communications for, the Dayton area Chamber of Commerce this, is a program produced by the Dayton area Chamber of Commerce as, you know we focus a lot on economic. And business development, in the Dayton region, as the, Regional, Chamber in the Dayton region and so, we. We focus on business mostly but as you do this longer, you, start to realize that there's, a foundation that needs to be laid in order to have a successful economic. Environment, and so we start getting involved in some, of the more foundational, issues and one of those topics is hunger, and we've come to realize that the Dayton region has. A problem lying, ahead of them when it comes to hunger and that's what we're talking about on the program today so I would like to welcome my two guests, I have a ton of jacobi and ambassador. Tony Hall they are with the hall hunger initiative and I wanna thank you both for being with me today discussing. This important topic thank you absolutely. So, I want to dive into the issue. Because. We're talking about basically. Food. Insecurity. And. We've. Gotten ourselves into, a real problem in the Dayton region where we have a lot of folks who just don't have access to the food and nutrition they. Need so. I think ambassador hall I'll start with you because this is a topic that you took on many many years ago can. You first give us an overview of what the problem, is in the Dayton region when it comes to food insecurity. Well. The problem is is that. We. A, couple. Years ago we're listed as the second, no not the second the fourth hungrier City and, in. In, the country and, we. Also have the distinction of being the. Second. Most hungry City of, families. With children and. And, those. Are you. Know we simply, shouldn't have a city like that it's it's it's, not good for our image it's not good for business, and. We. Shouldn't have a third, of our families, with children going. Without food it's just it's not good so we got to change that it, didn't used to be that way right. Yeah. Talk about cuz you have a long history you, were a congressman. Yeah here. In our area so you you, know very well, the, history of the Dayton region, talk, about what it was like when you were a congressman. How did we get here how is this community changed, yeah it's a good question. When. I was the Congress when I was a congressman for 24 years we had a lot, of employment, and we had a lot of manufacturing. Plants especially automobile. Plants. In. The last, 15. 20 years we've, lost 40,000. Manufacturing, jobs and these, were good, jobs they, paid good, wages they. Paid somewhere, between 28, and 30 dollars an hour before. Benefits, before. Pensions, before, medical. Care which were included and, so these are good jobs and, now when you lose 40,000. Of these jobs which we lost. They. Have never been replaced. You. Know we we do have, near. Full employment what. Some, people would call full employment but their, jobs that you, know paid 10 $12, an hour they're not near, the $30, an hour we were paid so people. Are not making it and, you. Know by the time they pay their their. Daycare bill, you, know they they, pay their rent they pay their utility, bills you know towards the end of the month they.
Don't Have money left right and if, they have one problem. If, their tire goes, flat if, one. Of their children needs a tooth pulled or a tooth, ache or they get sick they're. Out of money so they end up going to food pantries or whatever, and they're, in trouble so. We have a hunger problem and, along. With that we have probably. The largest food, desert, in Ohio maybe, the largest food desert in the whole country and, a, food desert. There's. A technical term for a food desert but what. I call food desert is it's a place in. A in the area of the country where there are no grocery stores okay, and that's what we have in Dayton Ohio we have a food desert where we practically, don't have any grocery stores we have maybe one, in. The city of Dayton all, the rest have left or they. Have burned down or they're, just not making any money so we have a problem and what, where is the area is it that is the whole city considered, a food desert can you kind of define where. That is it started, originally in, West, Dayton now, it's north Dayton and now a good portion of East Dayton is covered it's practically, the whole city mm-hmm, okay, and Donna, I heard you speak to a group about, these. Food deserts and why. It's, trying to relate to people I guess who are, used to getting in their car going to the grocery store and, I thought it was just so eye-opening the way you explained. It do, you remember that talk what's your usual to kind of repeat, we put yourself in the shoes of someone who's not able to yeah, i'm story most definitely so 66 percent of montgomery. Counties who deserts are located within the city of Dayton and when you're looking at the technical definition of a food desert as, the USDA describes, it's, either half a mile in areas of low transportation. Access or a mile in urban areas and, then it's 10 miles and in rural areas, but a mile or half a mile doesn't, feel like a very far distance where, people travels to the grocery store more than a mile away but, they do so in their car and so. I usually challenge, folks to think about when they go to the grocery store every week who, are they with are they by themselves, are they going after work do they have kids with them. How many groceries, do you have are you one of those folks that tries to get all of your groceries up the stairs in your house and one load or do you have to make multiple ones, how. Heavy are those groceries, how many bags do you have do you have jugs of milk do. You have cans of pop or cans of seltzer water what. What does that actually look like and then. Picture. You don't have access to your car now. You don't, have just. Childcare and you, have to take all of your kids with you when you go grocery shopping or you have arthritis or, mobility issues many. People in our community are taking, care of their, grandchildren, for. A variety of different reasons so we've got older, folks who are taking care of younger kids and then you also have many senior citizens that are also food insecure, so, a half a mile or a mile becomes very far for, a what, should be easy trip to the store to get the basic things you need to survive. So. Do you feel when you when. You try to explain the. Issue to people and try to get them put their themselves. In the shoes of people who you know it's harder to get to the grocery store what, do you find is the reaction. You know when you see in the news all you know the closest grocery store is 10 miles away what's. The reaction, of people who have, never been in those shoes it's. Very hard to explain hungry, to people unless they've experienced. It and unless, they're in people's shoes they, they. Don't understand, it and it's, it's hard to explain.
That. If. I don't have a car and, I'm. A woman with, two children or, I'm a senior citizen and I got to change buses. Twice. And. It takes it's a two hour trip, to, the suburbs, I can. Only carry so much or I have arthritis you. Know and I can't move or I got two kids I got a hammer how many groceries, can I carry right and, it takes two hours to do this I mean this, is a real hardship, so, if you've not been in that predicament, if I try to explain, this to somebody, Oh Tony. We don't really have hug a problem, in Dayton Ohio mm-hmm. Yeah we do mm-hmm. You don't see, hunger, you know it's, not like hunger, in Sudan people, are not jumping over dead but. People are hungry you. Don't see it and and people are, they, have pride they don't want you to know that they're hungry but. They're in trouble so, it kind of goes under the radar yeah, I, think, I can important to note when we're looking at food insecurity, and Dayton as Tony. Mentioned it's not the same kind that were so, we are associated, with with international, hunger but. Instead it looks like obesity it looks like diabetes it looks like heart disease it looks like hypertension. It. Looks like a worker who, can't focus because, they, are worried about what they're going to feed their child because, they know their pantry is empty and when they come home they have to figure out what they're gonna put on the table or it's a kid who doesn't understand that math problem and is acting out on Monday morning because they're so frustrated because the last meal they had was Friday afternoon at school, and. When a third of our families with children struggle. To eat, we. Know these are our neighbors like, that is a huge, part, of our population, and sort of think that we don't know people who are food insecure is, it's. Just not true it's, just whether or not, know that they're food insecure, yeah, right, and specifically, to your question though I think that it's hard to explain, or tell people but when you show them through that exercise. That I just went through with you and. When you talk about the lived experiences, of people who struggle with food insecurity I think it's a lot easier to connect with we all know what it feels like to be hangry we've all seen Snickers commercials. But. Hangry, is different, than hunger, food insecurity, means you don't know where your next meal is coming from and, that's a stress and trauma that many.
Of Our neighbors are experiencing, every day that impacts their, whole life so, when you're dealing with it trying to fight a problem, that is just not, necessarily. Visible how. Do you go about, getting. Support. And getting people, to back, up your initiative, it's. A good question, and and, I've been dealing with this for maybe. Thirty five years one of the best ways that I. Try, to deal with it and I try to help educate. Especially. With elected, officials is I try to take them and show, them and. Sometimes. I, take. Them to programs, here in the city sometimes, I take them overseas because. I do a lot of international hunger, and I'll take them to Sudan. Or I'll take them to the. Congo, or I'll take them to someplace where people, are really in trouble and they'll, take a look at it and say oh my gosh I've never seen anything like that they, go back to their congressional, district and they, start to think well. You know I've got hunger in my own district I need to go look to see what's, happening there and then, they go to their food pantries, and food banks and then they start to take a look once their. Heart is touched once. They see it for themselves once, they talk to the recipients, they begin to change and. That. Has changes things and then they become, motivated. Then they start. Voting differently, and they start. Becoming. Compassionate. And, they. They. Start to do things differently right and. Beyond, that the compassion, you know I kind of alluded to at the beginning of this, of the show I think that everyone. Should have an interest in this topic just because we're all humans right and we're all looking out for each other but, beyond that you know to help. Our community, rise in. Every way whether it's from our perspective, it's all about the economy and business, and in growing business and in providing, people with jobs and ways to provide for themselves. You, can't focus, on those, issues until, you, focus, on the very, basics, and hunger is one, of those and so that's why as a Chamber of Commerce we've, recognized, we. Have to get involved from the beginning we have to support, these initiatives that are really, focusing, on the foundational. Needs of the people in our community.
What. Has been the reaction so, far we've seen some movement of you know people trying to make a difference in this arena what's. The reaction of the Dayton community as a whole when they hear about this it's been wonderful, I think, when when I talk, to business people business. Men and women and they they. Have been reacting, in a, wonderful, way they understand, I, think. That they understand, we, cannot have a city. That. Is the fourth hungrier city in the country, absolutely. We. Cannot have a city. With. A reputation, like that. Why. What, a company, or a business want to locate, here, this. Should be a city where. The people here take, care of their own now. Wouldn't that be something if we were be able to tell the, rest of the country, Dayton. Ohio is. Hunger, free they. Take care of their own people that, would be something mm-hmm. And. I'd add so I'm pretty new to date and I moved here about two and a half years ago and this is something that you've, told me many times that when you give date onehans the information, they'll step up to the plate and I've, been really excited to work work. With the whole hunger initiative and many, of the projects that we support like the gem city market to see that like when folks find out about this issue they. Step up and to see so many people become, hunger champions, and to become food, equity champions, has been very exciting absolutely. Wait will you mentioned, at the gem city markets, that's one of those things when we talk about how. Are we responding to, the problem we've identified the problem how are we responding the, gem city market is one of those that really stepped, up, can, you tell us what that is where. It stands yeah. Most definitely I can talk about Genesee tomorrow, I'm sure you could, the. Jump City market will be a vibrant full-service, grocery store, located. On lower Salem Avenue serving, the northwest side. Of town the food desert there it's, gonna be owned by the workers in the community which makes it unique so, one of the things that we've seen is a lot of companies pull out and see our left GM. Left all these just left on the west side and, and. When those institutions, leave they, leave people, that are still there that still need work that still needs that, still need access to healthy affordable food, and because, this initiative, and this project is led by the community, and that the actual business will be owned by the workers in the community no one can take it away from us and that is a really exciting, rallying. Cry that we've seen a lot in the neighborhoods, as this is for us and by us so, not only will it be vibrant and wonderful and clean and. Affordable but, it is also something that is truly community, and worker owned and and, that's something that I'm really excited about ok is there anything you wanted to add about the gem city market ambassador Hall she. Says it much better than I don't know. It's it's. It's the right time in the right place and.
It's, Going to be owned by the people there and. It's. Going to be run, by the people there managed, by the people there and it's, it's. We. Think it's we're. Gonna have a coffee shop there we're going to have we. Think a dietitian, there we're gonna we're, gonna have cooking, courses, we're gonna we're, gonna have fresh fruit, and vegetables. It's. Going to be a first class tour and we think it's really going to help that, area well, and be, prosperous right and the location, was just recently announced, you was that strategic, I'm sure it was the choice of that location can you talk about that yeah so we did a market, study so we're, really driven by mission right we want to make sure that people are fed but, Marge is an incredibly important, right so if you don't balance mission, and margin you're not going to be successful for either right so we knew that if we were gonna build this grocery store we needed to do our homework so, we did a survey of 1,200, people in the area. We had a wholesaler, come in and do a survey market study of the area as well and that spot on lower Selma Avenue was identified, to be the most profitable and the most sustaining, so, we have a very conservative Performa. We're. Looking at being, profitable. By year five which is really exciting yeah and our trade area only encompasses, portions. Twelve neighborhoods in in. Northwest Dayton, so none, of the money that we assume will come from downtown, or some of the surrounding areas is accounted, for so, anyone, who crosses that bridge is added value to the store which is really exciting so we also wanted to make sure that the store would be sustainable. Even if folks didn't cross the bridge because we know that River is. A dividing, force in our community and we didn't want that barrier to be the reason why the grocery, store didn't succeed well, I've seen, the plans and and I think you're absolutely right it seems like the the planning has been very. Strategic. And also, you've, been smart about it you know there is no pie in the sky here we've been really realistic about making sure that this is sustainable, this.
Is Exciting for I think anyone, who. Works or lives around, that area talked, about you mentioned a dietician fresh fresh produce what's. The significance of, that how important, is that, the. Significance. Of it is that. If. You would drive out into the west side the north side and the east side. You're. Gonna see. Liquor. Stores you're. Gonna see, barbecue, places you'll, see maybe. A couple corner, places, but you. Can't, get fresh fruit and vegetables, or. Fresh our, fresh meats I mean. If you go to a you. Might buy a banana, but. The banana car cent dollar hmm, a. Lot. More than your local Kroger y'all at four yeah and you just can't, get fresh food and. So, that's one of the reasons I'd. Also say that we've. Seen so the West state and right now is not only a food desert but it's also a food swamp so folks have an abundance. Of food options, often but they're expensive and they're they're unhealthy and that, leads to hypertension that, leads to heart disease that, leads to cancer that leads to diabetes leads, to a variety of chronic diseases that many people in our community are dying from we, know that grocery stores are incredibly, important, we also know that they're insufficient, so we can't just build a beautiful grocery store and expect things to change folks. Need to learn how to cook fresh affordable, food they, need access to know what kinds of things they need to eat for the diet that's most appropriate for them so, we are also supporting. Wraparound. Health, services, for that and we're really excited about that project and HHI, is supporting gem city market by doing a lot of that health planning so, we're working with folks from Sinclair Wright, State University of, Dayton premier health Kettering, Health eatin children's. Several. Folks, that work in the community, that are nurse practitioners, and dietitians, that are putting their time where, their mouth is and they're, starting to write plans for what this store is actually going to look like and how we're going to have wraparound, health. Programming I love that I have, a couple more questions we just have a few more minutes left I know we could be like you said we could talk for days about this, what, is the timeline look like so, the people can actually see the market in place, I think. They want to start construction, by the end of the year and. We'd like to open up this. Gem. City market, by the end of next year, yes. That's. Exactly true, and the sooner we can raise, the money the the sooner, we can break ground the sooner we can open the store it's looking like construction will take about a year so the closer we can get to raising those dollars the. The quicker gem city market will be a reality, and how are you raising the funds well, it.
It's, Going to cost about 4.2. Million dollars, and we've raised about a little bit over third of that and. We've. Sold about nine hundred and twenty shares to, the people who live in the area okay, and two people actually, live, in Dayton but most, of them live in the area so. You. Know we've gotten a good start and we feel very very good about it but we. Need other date, onehans, people in the Miami Valley area, to step. Up and. It's. Time to step up and so. Yesterday. Was. Actually, the, the time that we announced, the. Formal. Ceremony. It's time to. Bring. The money, let's. Go and how do they do that how do people get you the money jeomsun market calm you can become a member today we, have a beautiful new website that we just launched yesterday so gem city market calm is a great, first start and you, can buy your own membership you can be a voting member of the store you can also buy a supporter, membership so if you're someone who thinks like this is great I don't plan on shopping at the store but I want to make sure that this is accessible to everyone you, can get a supporter, membership, for $90 and up so they start at 90 because, our lifetime, memberships are $100, or $10. For people who qualify for food assistance so, the supporter, shares are subsidizing, those those. Food assistance shares, which is really exciting and they, just start at $90, so people can donate upwards, of that we. Also have a fund at the Dayton foundation, that people can donate to and if, anyone is interested in, doing, more particularly. Through their business they can reach out to us they. Can go to the hall hunger website or the gem City Market website and go to contact, us and get in touch with us and we're. Really excited about companies, that have stepped up Kettering, health network is actually doing an employee match where, they're matching fifty, percent so, any member of Kettering, health network that becomes excuse, me any person. Who works at Kettering health network that becomes a member has a 50 percent match and that's a really exciting pilot, that we're working with them on and, if any other companies, want to do the same we'd be happy to work with them as well right now Chamber members listen up yeah it's got one of our great Chamber members so I guess they said they set the bar so let's see how many chamber members can get involved sure that's exciting you know I think the gem study market right now is really where we're focusing, our you. Know excitedness. If, that's a word but. I assume.
That This is not the end-all be-all can. You talk about that and, where, we go beyond, beyond. Once the market is up and running well. There's you. Know as a result of where we were 15. 20. Years ago we were a hunger-free, community. We. Could we, could really say to the community nobody, went to bed hungry in this community and, it's. Taken 15 years to get to the point where we're the fourth hungriest city in the country there's, a lot of gaps there and. One. Of those gaps is going to be filled we're going to have a we're. Gonna have a gem city market a full-service. Grocery store, and and that's a big gap but, there's a lot of gaps you, know we need mobile. Markets, and we need, we. Have wonderful pantries. And a wonderful, food bank and. We. Just need a lot of things of which we're gonna work on and so. We're. Gonna fill in those gaps and, we're gonna be back where, we were it's. Gonna take a while it. Took, us 15 years to get here right it's gonna take us probably, 15, years to come out of this but we're gonna do it and. I think one important thing to add is the gem city market is a beautiful. Project and we are deeply excited, and honored to be associated with it and to be working on it but that food desert is large and if. We're going back to talking from the very beginning about a half a mile or a mile right um we. Need more market, so the gem city market is hoping to be the flagship, and then having more. Stores deeper, into the desert but it's really important I think for folks to understand, that supporting the gem city market is a great first step but, it is not sufficient and, that this, work is hard and Dayton's food its food, ecosystem, is fragile when, you have one grocery store that burns down on the east side and devastates. An entire, community it, just shows how fragile, our ecosystem, is and this is really gonna take a, lot, of hard work intentional. Disinvestment, is as big and intentional. Reinvestment, is long as well and we're, excited to work with the partners that we have who have stepped up to the plate and we're eager to work with others who who have yet to do so that's, perfect I think we can end it there I do want to before we end I want to say ambassador Hall thank. You from, this entire community for the work you have done for so many years not. Only on this issue which I know is very close to your heart but you know everything, as a congressman, as an ambassador as an advocate, for this region, the, work you have done has has, just. Been very meaningful to the Dayton region so thank you very thank. You for taking time to talk with us and. Inform, our business community, we appreciate, both of you one, more time what's the website where you can go and invest. In the gem setting German city market calm okay, Thank You etana thank you ambassador all for being cute from the day you. Can always follow the Dayton area Chamber of Commerce on social media we're on facebook we're on LinkedIn Twitter or YouTube you can watch more episodes of, business connections, get. More information on topics that affect our business community, thank you for being with us today stay tuned for a quick message former president and CEO Phil, Parker. One. Of the most meaningful projects. For the Dayton communities, Westside, is the, opportunity, to help eliminate some, of the concerns for, access. To good nutritional. And fairly, priced foods, over. The last two years we've seen the, reduction, of grocery, stores in the Westside and leaders. Like former congressman. And Ambassador, Tony Hall and Leila Klein have helped. Gather together some very concerned, citizens, who are working to. Alleviate, this, concern. It. Goes without saying how, important, fresh nutritious, food, is to, all of our citizens but, many, struggle, with the task of locating local. Food stores so badly we've. Seen the creation of food, deserts, even. In densely, populated areas. Of our community. Today's. Show highlights, one, of these key initiatives, that citizens, are working on together, the. Jim City Market a locally. Owned and operated co-op. Food market, it's, on its way to becoming, a reality by, 2020. Or before. We hope it. Is slated, to be. Located, in a strategic spot, along, Salem, Avenue that. Will include public, transit, access for, our families, west of the river and also. For. The growing population, downtown. The. Chamber fully and enthusiastically. Supports, this project and, encourages. Citizens and businesses, to invest as, co-op members as well. As raising, the needed public capital resources, for. Its construction. We. Hope you've enjoyed today's program, and asks that you seek out Leila Klein and others at the gym city market so you can add your support, of this. Citizen-led. And owned. Project.