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West Dayton food desert finds relief in Gem City Market

West Dayton food desert finds relief in Gem City Market (WKEF/WRGT)

DAYTON, Ohio (WRGT/WKEF) – The rolling sound of buses through a food desert is not quite the wind over the dunes of the Sahara, but it is barren all the same. In West Dayton, people hunt for their groceries, but a remedy may be on the horizon. It is called the Gem City Market.

“They have to get on a bus to travel 45 minutes sometimes, and have to change [buses],” former congressman and US ambassador Tony Hall said of neighbors heading to the grocery store.

“Sometimes I catch number 2, number 11, number 16, number 19,” listed Mama Nozipo Glenn.

The 74-year-old goes by Mama Nozipo, and was kicked out of South Africa during the Apartheid. She has witnessed malnutrition, and watched mothers starve.

“I have seen what it can do to the children that they bear,” Mama Nozipo said.

Living in West Dayton, she is ready for change. She is the honorary Chairman for the Gem City Market. The future full service grocery store will be on Salem Avenue. The community will own it along with its many charter members like future City Commissioner Darryl Fairchild. They will also make the decisions on what happens with the store.

“We get one vote out of 921 apparently,” Fairchild said.

“It’s really keeping the power to the people with the workers and the owners,” Gem City Market board member Amaha Sellassie said.

It will potentially give neighbors a place to shop beyond the limitations of a corner store.

“No, not at all. Just processed foods. Nothing fresh,” said James Revels who gets some of his groceries at a nearby Dollar General.

“A banana is one dollar? We can get a bushel for .39 or .49 cents,” Sellassie said of grocery stores.

Hall is serving as the market’s Chairman. He said they need $4.2 million to open, and have raised a third of that so far.

“We can’t have a community if almost a third of our families where their children can not eat,” Hall said.

Gem City Market may be their oasis.

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