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Premier Health donates $400,000 to help build community grocery in Dayton

Premier Health Donates to Help Build Gem City Market (WKEF/WRGT)

UPDATE: FOX 45 talked to the board chair for Gem City Market, who explained that the store would be a co-op grocery store, meaning it's owned by the community.

So far, they've sold about 700 shares to nearby residents. They hope to break ground in 2018, and have the doors open the next year.

"Other grocery stores are leaving the community," Amaha Sellassie said, "and we're trying to come in and be here and serve our community need, because we knew we need to do it for ourselves for us to make this happen."

Gem City Market volunteers will be at the 2nd Street Market over the weekend giving t-shirts to people who donate money for the new grocery store.

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DAYTON, Ohio (WKEF/WRGT)- An empty lot in the 100 block of Salem Avenue, west of Downtown Dayton could be the home of a new grocery store. It’s the potential site of the Gem City Market.

Premiere Health announced it was giving $400,000 over the next five years to help get the Gem City Market off the ground.

"This project is one that will make a dent in the problem folks have described here today of our families not being able to access enough fresh and healthy food and the impact that that is having on our community cannot be overstated," Lela Klein, a Gem City Market Board Member said during a news conference Wednesday afternoon.

Dayton isn't doing so well when it comes to offering fresh food for its residents. Nearly all West Dayton is known as a food desert. That means more than 40% of the population makes less than 200% of the poverty level and lives more than a mile from a grocery store.

"We are standing together saying that we're not going to have the state's largest food desert," former ambassador and Hall Hunger Initiative founder Tony Hall said.

Jacob Bonnell used to live a few blocks from the Food for Less on East Third Street. Now he knows firsthand what it’s like not to have a grocery store he can easily walk to.

"Everybody in the community would go there. They were very nice people that worked there," Bonnell said.

The Food for Less, the only grocery in the area went up in flames a few weeks ago.

What was a five-minute walk for him and his family turned into a 25 minute bus ride to the nearest Kroger, more than a mile away.

"And then we have to do our shopping and then wait for the RTA bus to come back through and bring us home," Bonnell said.

The new grocery will be too far for Bonnell and the rest of the folks on the east side of town who don't have a car but he's hopeful to see the Food for Less rebuild or another grocery open in the area.

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