An award-winning story in the spring 2011 Widener Magazine reported the efforts of a Center for Social Work Education program to create maps documenting the lack of food options in Chester — deemed a “food desert” by the USDA — and develop ways to fill those needs.
For a dozen years, residents of the city had been without a grocery store and had few options for fresh and healthy food. That void was filled on Saturday when Philabundance opened the Fare and Square, a nonprofit grocery.
Construction on the store began last year in the vacant section of the building housing Family Dollar on the 3100 block of West 9th Street. As a nonprofit grocery store operated by a food aid group, it is believed to be the first of its kind in the nation.
A second grocery store, this one commercial, is slated to open in Chester in 2014. Bottom Dollar will be located at 15th Street and Edgmont Avenue, near Widener University.
Establishing Fare and Square in Chester was a project set forth by Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2), a national initiative created by the Obama administration in July 2011, and supported, in part, by Widener. The initiative’s goal is to aid distressed cities like Chester by “strengthening local capacity and sparking economic growth in local communities.”
“There is no significant quality of life without proper food and nourishment,” said Arto Woodley, one of Chester’s two SC2 fellows who works out of an office in Old Main on the Widener campus. “The market helps elevate the quality of life. It’s a huge win for this region.”