Reinvestment Fund has developed a comprehensive and evidence-based approach to improving the food landscape for underserved urban and rural communities. A key component of our approach is America’s Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI), a public-private partnership administered by Reinvestment Fund on behalf of USDA Rural Development to improve access to healthy food in underserved areas.
In 2022, HFFI awarded $22.6 million in grants to 134 projects, 45% of which serve rural communities. 26 of these healthy food projects are located in the Southeast. Chicory Market was one of the grantees awarded funding for their projects.
Creating a Collaborative Food Space at Oxford, Mississippi’s Chicory Market
When the small “farmers market” style store that served the Oxford, Mississippi community for over 30 years closed in 2016, the neighborhood was left with limited access to fresh foods. Chicory Market, a full-service community grocery store, took over the space in 2017. Since then, the 1,800 square foot market has been on a mission to not only improve access to healthy, affordable food for Oxford-Lafayette county residents but also increase the connectivity of Oxford’s local food system.
Chicory Market is run by Oxford natives Catherine Bishop and John Martin. Together they set out to connect local farmers and food makers to a rapidly growing community that otherwise relies on traveling up to 30 miles to big-box supermarkets like Walmart or Kroger. Chicory Market addresses this gap in access by operating 7 days a week and bringing an expanded assortment of fresh, local produce and staple and perishable foods to their shelves and customers.
After four years of collaboration and hard work, Chicory Market increased its team to 24 employees and tripled its revenue—and they’ve continued to dream big. In 2022, a $200,000 grant award from Reinvestment Fund’s Healthy Food Financing Initiative enabled Chicory Market’s expansion plans to create a collaborative food space. The collaborative will bring together at least five local food vendors under one roof to run various departments that will create a full-service grocery store experience. Since each vendor partner will operate as a separate unit, Chicory Market will implement a unique agreement with each vendor that best fits their needs. Vendor partners will share the costs of the commercial rental space, utilities, point-of-sale system, and other core operating expenses.