Gem City Market project continues; developers eager to serve community

Gem City Market set to open in January 2021, photo of produce courtesy of Pxfuel.

Sarah Gool
Contributing Writer

A mother of three walks into a dimly lit corner store gas station and heads to the freezers. She wanders down an aisle filled with potato chips and candy bars.

“I hope they have more than just frozen pizzas and microwavable dinners.” she thinks to herself while scanning the shelves. 

After minutes of searching, and to no avail, she realizes there is no chance she’ll be able to make a healthy dinner for her children. 

Many families in Dayton have no access to fresh and nutritious food in their areas and live in what are known as food deserts. With no grocery stores around that offer affordable options to make balanced meals, they are only able to get nourishment from empty calories.

Gem City Market is what the area has been missing. This co-op grocery store is set to open its doors in January of 2021 at 840 Germantown St. 

“It is being built by the people it’s going to serve, and it’s developed by the community it is going to be empowering” said Elizabeth Miles, Gem City Market community engagement liaison.

The co-op’s goal is to serve the neighborhood by providing affordable, high quality food.

Purchasing a membership gives individuals ownership and a say as to what happens in the market and in their community. Gem City Market will also be accepting EBT and SNAP benefits to make its products more accessible to its customers from lower-income areas.

The store has a goal of procuring 20 percent of its produce locally. This will promote small farms in the region and is ultimately cheaper than buying from larger name brands. 

A key feature of Gem City Market is that it is going to offer a health clinic and teaching kitchen on site. It is going to help community members far beyond simply shopping for groceries.

“The Dayton food issue isn’t that there is no access to food at all” Miles said. “But now when people have access to nutritious products, they don’t have the knowledge to know what to do with them.”

The teaching kitchen will provide recipes that include ingredients found in the store, and cooking classes to show members how to prepare those meals.

“The programming in that kitchen is going to be largely dictated by the community,” said Kenya Baker, community outreach director.

Meaning, not only are consumers going to be shown how to prepare the food, but they will be cooking food that is culturally appropriate for them. 

Gem City Market’s health clinic will have a dietitian and nurse on staff. This will assist customers who need day-to-day medical advice, as well as those with dietary health concerns.

“A dietitian could consult with a customer who has diabetes and say, ‘This is what you should be eating, and this is where you can find it in the store,’” Miles said.

This is going to help customers in ways no other grocery store can. The amenities offered at Gem City Market will allow patrons to kick-start a healthier lifestyle by giving them the tools they need for success. 

There are many ways students can get involved in this project now, and after it is completed. The market offers plenty of service opportunities on its website. Some of which include participating in fundraising with the store as well as volunteering at community events. 

The University of Dayton has partnered with Gem City in the past by giving undergraduates the ability to work hands on with the project. This included the dietetics program of creating recipes for the store, engineering groups developing and designing the space and finance majors scanning prospective target markets. 

The best way to reap the benefits of this grocery store is to become a member. Not only will it allow one to help make decisions for the co-op at its monthly meetings, but individuals will physically be able to shop at the store and purchase their groceries. This will allow one to support the neighborhood even if they don’t live in the area.    

The market is taking major steps to improve the city as well as the wellbeing of those who reside within it.

Gem City as a whole is going to create a lot of bridges between different aspects of the community and give multiple opportunities for people to get involved. 

“It’s not just for the West Side, it’s supposed to be for everyone,” said Miles.