INDIANAPOLIS — A new grocery store, Indy Fresh Market, opened this week off E. 38 Street and Sheridan Avenue on Indy’s east side.
Access to a new store brought with it some much-needed relief to one of the biggest food deserts in the city.
Some people FOX59/CBS4 talked to were nearly in tears they were so happy about a new grocery store opening in an area that hasn’t had easy access to food in years.
This side of town isn’t alone as the Indianapolis Community Food Access Coalition (ICFAC) says Indianapolis is one of the worst cities In the country for food deserts.
“I was so excited to see all these people in here to support. And that’s what it’s all about. Supporting and not having to go very far,” said Sharon Whitley, who drove from Broad Ripple to see the new store.
Indy natives Michael McFarland and Markus William co-own the more than 16,700-square-foot facility.
The locally black-owned store has been in the works for nearly three years and saw more than 1,000 customers walk through the doors Wednesday for the soft opening.
Many were happy they didn’t have to travel for miles to get the food they needed.
“This has been a food desert and it’s another place where people don’t have to go 5 or 6 miles or 10 or 15 miles to get food to eat,” said Greg Smith who lives in the area.
“I live down the street about four blocks and I’m so glad to see a market. I am tired of running all over this town looking for anything,” said Aina Luster, an east side resident.
This part of town is a notorious food desert.
“It’s extremely important because people in communities like these often go feeling like they’re not being heard,” said Zakiyah Parker, an inventory control clerk with Indy Fresh Market. “It’s not news that we needed a major grocery store in our community.”
What exactly is a food desert?
According to ICFAC’s website, 208,000 Indianapolis residents live in a food desert, and 10,500 live without access to a car or bus to reach grocery stores. ICFAC says this is referred to as a ‘transit food desert.’
According to ICFAC, to be considered a food desert, more than 33% of an urban population must live more than one mile from a grocery store, and in a rural space, more than 33% of the population must live more than ten miles.
FOX59/CBS4 looked at the USDA’s interactive map that tracks access to grocery stores and by that definition, Indianapolis has nearly 50 sections of town that qualify as a food desert.
Everyone we talked to at the Indy Fresh Market Thursday hopes this new store will help combat that.
“It’s huge to shop in your neighborhood and spend your own money inside the community that’s going to give back. It’s going to save people a lot of time and a lot of money,” said Brandon Wright, who lives in the area.
“I think this is a Godsend. It’ll work,” said Whitley.
“I think it’s great for the community and great for the entrepreneurs. The young entrepreneurs. This is what we need more of,” said Smith.
The grand opening for Indy Fresh Market is Oct. 24.