Lower Lights Christian Health Center (LLCHC) is bringing a very needed grocery store to the neighborhood of Franklinton. Now that all the paperwork and planning is complete, the project is going to start picking up the pace.
“Beginning next week we really will see activity and we’re projecting now that at the end of October it should be up and running,” said Ann Schiele the Chief Strategy Officer of Lower Lights Christian Health Center.
The food desert in Franklinton causes a problem for many in the neighborhood. Not having regular access to a car can make the chore of going to the grocery store even more daunting. If you thought lugging your groceries from the car in your driveway was a hassle, think about how much you’d hate grocery shopping if you had to carry your bags for miles.
“Now, the closest [grocery store] to us here is an ALDI over on Mound Street about one and a fourth miles away,” Schiele told me when I visited the health center at 1160 W Broad St. “If you ride a bus, ride a bike, walk, it becomes a major problem.”
Residents of the area have no choice but to turn to unhealthy eating habits like shopping for food at convenience stores and going to fast food restaurants. Going to these places might be okay every once and a while, but those that have made a habit of it are starting to pay the price.
“We see about 14,000 patients a year. Many, many of the adults have one of the common chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity,” lists Schiele. “They’re all related to nutrition.”
This is why Dr. Dana Vallangeon, CEO of LLCHC, began trying to get a grocery store in the area. Large grocery store chains like Kroger and Giant Eagle were sympathetic but didn’t have a store design that was small enough. The Mid-Ohio Foodbank wanted to help. However, they could not take their resources away from other projects.
Just when it seemed like there were no other options, Dr. Vallangeon decided to take on the task of opening a grocery store herself. She created her own model of a grocery store in the unused 4,500-square-foot space right inside of LLCHC.
The health center recently decided upon the name Jubilee Market for the non-profit grocery store. The name of the cafe is still in the works.
Jubilee Market will act as another branch of the many departments of the Lower Lights Christian Health Center. The focus of the grocery store and the cafe will be to provide the Franklinton residents and visitors with nutrition education, employment opportunities, and a social destination.
“This is not for Lower Lights,” said Schiele. “This is for the community.”
With health services ranging from family practice to dentistry, the LLCHC will use the Jubilee Market and the cafe as part of their dietary practice. Patients can try a prescription for a specific diet before they have to resort to a prescription medication. The dietitian will meet with the patient in the grocery story and together they can work out a dietary plan to fit the specific needs of the individual.
The LLCHC hopes that this grocery store will make it easier to people eat healthier in general. It will act as preventive care for the conditions frequently seen at the center like diabetes and high blood pressure.
“I can just assure them that it will be high quality and the most reasonable price we can absolutely afford to give,” explained Schiele.
Since Jubilee Market and the cafe are not-for-profit, they will charge customers according to their income. Shoppers will simply sign up for a shopper card with the LLCHC Financial Department before going to the store. The cards will be swiped at the register and the prices will be adjusted accordingly. This will make the shopping process easier and ensure the customers an embarrassment-free interaction.
All items in the grocery store will be available through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). More often than not, essentials like toilet paper and soaps are not included in the program. But at Jubilee Market visitors can use SNAP to get everything on their grocery list. Minus any alcohol and tobacco products, that is.
“We’re building this on a healthy model,” said Schiele. “We don’t see that as very healthy.”
Since the market is a branch of the health center, Jubilee Market will not offer any of these items because they don’t fall into LLCHC’s vision for the store.
The project developer Brexton has been gearing up and assembling the manpower to get the ball rolling. With the tedious part of the project out of the way, Lower Lights is eager for the construction to start.
“We want to have a thriving grocery store cafe where people from all backgrounds and educations will come and enjoy.”