For a dozen years, residents of the city of Chester – deemed a “food desert” by the USDA – have been without a grocery store. That void was recently filled when Philabundance opened Fare and Square, a nonprofit grocery.
Construction on the store began last year in a vacant section of a building housing a Family Dollar store on the 3100 block of West 9th Street. It is believed to be the first nonprofit grocery store operated by a food aid group 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 grocery stores in Chester was a project set forth by Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2), a national initiative created by the Obama administration in July 2011. The initiative’s goal is to aid distressed cities like Chester by “strengthening local capacity and sparking economic growth in local communities.”
A program in Widener’s Center for Social Work Education has worked for several years to create maps documenting the lack of food options in Chester and develop ways to fill those needs.
Maria Klecko is a student at Widener University.