Sen. Smith encouraged by inclusive vision for store
North Minneapolis has “a nutritional gap” that has been getting more attention recently. With Appetite for Change, Green Garden Bakery and Kindred Kitchen, there is now a market that has healthy food with a deli and bakery, fresh produce and daily cooked meat. North Market also addresses health services and concerns.
On February 10, Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.), a member of the Senate Health Committee, visited North Market, an innovative North Minneapolis grocery store that opened in December 2017. The store supplies the local community with access to food and much-needed health and wellness services. The venture includes partnerships with North Memorial Health System.
“What you do automatically is what some organizations fail to grasp,” said an elated Smith. “They think community engagement means [that] we’re going to do a lot of internal thinking, then we will show that to our community and hope they buy in.”
The organic grocery store is just a few blocks from Hamilton Manor, a senior housing complex on 44th Avenue. Some years ago, Metro Mobility provided bus services to Cub Food (some three miles away on Broadway), but that service was cut due to lack of funding.
Asked how the project came about, Adair Mosely, president and CEO of Pillsbury Communities, stated it originated in an entirely different project. “We were actually trying to solve a whole different problem. We were talking about WIC (Women Infants & Children). [But] working with the community, what we found was folks had barriers in access to food.”
Mosley gave the senator a tour of the grocery store. She wanted to gain a perspective of innovative tactics to take back to D.C.. Smith pointed out that the investment was a smart move with Mosely seeing an investment where others haven’t. “What is beautiful about this is, according to marketing analysis, no for-profit grocery store would want to come here [to the Camden neighborhood].”
Yaseen Allah told MSR that he drove by North Market all the time. “I used to work at a food co-op over Northeast. She’s [Smith] really big on bringing North Side together, and I’m big on good food. Bringing that over here, I had to jump on board.”
Allah’s been there since the grand opening. “We were just setting up shelves, making sure they looked good for the people.”
North Memorial Health System supports the wellness portion of North Market’s services. There are wellness coordinators, nutritionists, community health works and pharmacy liaisons on site to provide information and referrals such as health assessments, nutrition guidance, insurance and scheduling assistance, and medication management.
In addition, Valerie Turner conducts a Zumba class at the market every Saturday.
“A lot of times, in the social service sector, people use this language and certain problem-solving strategies,” said Senator Smith, “… ‘We’re doing economic development, while you stick to what you’re good at on the social services side and we will fill you in [accordingly]’”
Mosely told Smith that North Market supplemented other health initiatives in North Minneapolis. “In fact, we are working with organizations like Green Garden to get their products on our shelves.”
Senator Smith encouraged Mosely to continue working with North Market’s community-oriented health and wellness initiative. “If you don’t believe you can make that transformational change, then you for sure won’t make it.”
For more information, visit http://mynorthmarket.org or their Facebook page at My North Market.
Ivan B. Phifer welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ivan B. Phifer is contributing writer at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder. He can be reached at email@example.com