Store brings increased healthy food options and new jobs to a food desert.
Baltimore, July 31 – Community residents and local leaders gathered today to celebrate the opening of the ShopRite of Howard Park, a 67,000 square-foot full-service new supermarket. With the store’s opening, the neighborhood marks the end of more than a decade without easy access to a supermarket for local residents. The neighborhood is identified as having inadequate access to healthy food by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and The Reinvestment Fund (TRF).
For TRF, a nonprofit community investor with extensive experience financing supermarkets in underserved, low-income communities, the store’s opening is the culmination of years of bringing together the right resources and partners. TRF sought early financing for the project by applying for and receiving Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI) funds in 2011 from the US Department of Health and Human Services to support a low-cost loan for the store’s predevelopment costs. Two years later, JPMorgan Chase provided the term financing and New Markets Tax Credit investment of $14.65 million, in partnership with TRF and City First Bank of D.C.
“We are incredibly proud of the role we played to make this community’s big dream come true,” shared Don Hinkle-Brown, President and CEO of TRF. “This new supermarket is bringing more than healthy food choices to a community, which sorely lacked such options. It is also bringing 250 new jobs, a health center and revitalized commercial presence to this neighborhood.”
“JPMorgan Chase is proud to play a leadership role in helping to strengthen our communities so they can thrive,” said Wayne Trotman, President of Chase Middle Market for the Mid-Atlantic. TRF’s commitment to Howard Park aligns with the firm’s core values.”
The project stands as an example of a successful partnership involving Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development (BUILD), Baltimore Development Corporation (BDC), the Howard Park Civic Association, Calvin Rodwell Elementary School’s Child First Afterschool Program, Klein’s Family Markets, UpLift Solutions, Opportunity Finance Network (OFN), City First Bank, JPMorgan Chase and TRF.
“Access to healthy foods is a necessary first step to healthy eating and the Howard Park community knows that,” shared Ojeda Hall, Lead Organizer for BUILD, an early TRF partner in this effort. “It is why hundreds of residents joined community leaders and institutions like the New All Saints Roman Catholic Church, Gwynn Oak United Methodist church to make their voices heard and bring this supermarket to the neighborhood. We are excited to celebrate the opening of this long-needed store.”
The ShopRite fills a crucial gap in a community that has lacked an easily-accessible source for fresh foods since the previous market closed in 2000. The supermarket is operated by the Klein family, which has a 90 year background of owning and operating stores in suburban Maryland. The new supermarket will provide a wide variety of groceries and fresh produce, meat, and seafood. The store will also offer specialty foods like natural, organic, and gluten-free products, along with a large selection of ethnic foods.
The ShopRite is also creating 250 full and part-time jobs, with many of the positions going to neighborhood residents. The ShopRite of Howard Park, operated by the Klein family, offered in-depth job training for all new hires. The ShopRite Training Center is located at the All Saints Church, a BUILD congregational member across the street from the supermarket. Over a ninety-day period, employees completed training comprised of an orientation session, computer-based classroom training and in-store training at other ShopRites operated by the Kleins. The Klein family and UpLift Solutions also worked with community groups on input to shape the store’s design and plan to cater to the diverse preferences of the Howard Park community. They also worked with the Baltimore bus transportation system to design a store parking lot that accommodates a major bus stop at its front entrance for the ease of local shoppers.
In addition, the store will house a 1,000 square-foot Q-Care health suite, including a Federally-Qualified Health Center (FQHC) managed by Park West Health Care System. The walk-in center will provide convenient healthcare services for children and adults. A pharmacy for residents and two community rooms will be available to support the community as well. The Klein family will support a cooking and nutrition education program for students at the nearby Calvin Rodwell Elementary School and have supplied the school with a cooking unit to be used there in the school.
With many residents lacking a car and over a fifth of families living in poverty, a local supermarket and FQHC will make a significant impact on the health of the Howard Park community. Dr. Allen Bennett, CEO of Park West said, “The presence of the Park West Q-Care Health Suite within the ShopRite is such an innovation that will ensure even more quality and accessible healthcare for all. This is a first of its kind in the State of Maryland for an FQHC.”
This is not TRF’s first endeavor in fresh food financing. Since 2004, TRF has taken a comprehensive approach to improving access to healthy, fresh food in low-income communities in urban and rural areas. The company has provided over $182 million in financing to 133 healthy food projects. Recently, TRF launched the ReFresh Initiative, a national network of partnerships engaged to improve access to healthy foods, and has committed to growing the initiative through a variety of methods. This includes updating TRF’s seminal Limited Supermarket Access analysis, a data-rich tool created to inform local and national policymakers and funders about their community’s grocery needs and support healthy food financing. With increased efforts and growth in partnerships, TRF will continue to support local food retailers, like the Howard Park ShopRite, and increase fresh food access across the country.
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About The Reinvestment Fund: TRF is a national leader in rebuilding America’s distressed towns and cities and does this work through the innovative use of capital and information. TRF has made $1.3 billion in community investments since 1985. As a CDFI, TRF finances projects related to housing, community facilities, food access, commercial real estate, and energy efficiency. It also provides public-policy expertise by helping clients create practical solutions and by sharing data and analyses via www.PolicyMap.com. TRF partnered with Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development (BUILD) to create TRF Development Partners – Baltimore, a non-profit community development housing organization (CHDO) dedicated to building safe, affordable and vibrant neighborhoods. To learn more about TRF, visit trfund.com. Follow us on Twitter @trfund or Facebook at facebook.com/TRFund. To learn more about TRF, visit www.trfund.com.