Updated: 6/10/20 – 2:51 P.M.
BINGHAMTON, NY (WSKG) – House Agriculture Committee members Anthony Brindisi (NY-22) and Antonio Delgado (NY-19) recently announced federal funds will go to open a new grocery store on Binghamton’s Northside.
The neighborhood is a food desert, meaning it lacks access to fresh, quality food. The last grocery store on the Northside closed in 1996. The initiative to build a new one has been long in the works.
The $150,000 grant comes from the Appalachian Regional Commission. While it is not all that the store needs to open, it’s general manager and CHOW director Jack Seman said the funds will help ensure the market’s long-term viability.
“It’s going to actually provide a lot of the funding for salaries, so that in the years that this grocery store is building up and coming into the community we can stay stable,” Seman said.
According to Feeding America, 41.2 million American households lack reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food. In Broome County, nearly 14 percent of residents are food insecure, compared to 12 percent nationally.
A little more than 12,000 people live on Binghamton’s Northside, according to the Broome County Council of Churches, and more than half of all households in the neighborhood are families.
The Klee Foundation, a private charity in Broome County, matched the federal funding for the grocery project. The city of Binghamton contributed $150,000 and New York Senator Fred Akshar helped secure a $150,000 grant through the state.*
Still, Seman said they need funds for little things that will make the space a grocery store, such as produce stands, pallets, brooms and mops. Seman said money for these things will come from small donors in the area.
Run by the Council of Churches, Seman said this non-profit grocery model will be able to better meet the needs of the community.
“Not being a chain gives us the opportunity to really listen to the community, put in the grocery store what they want in the grocery store,” he said.
On the Northside, access to fresh produce within walking distance is limited. Bodegas, gas stations and the Family Dollar have some items, but resident Marguerite Tolson Jackson said it’s hard to find USDA recommended staples, like protein.
“We’re hoping that when the supermarket comes that it has sufficient vegetables and fresh fruits and some meat, because we don’t get a chance to get meat around here,” Tolson Jackson said.
Open for anyone to use, the grocery store will sit on the lower level of a new $17 million affordable housing complex set to open this fall at 435 State Street.
*An earlier version of this story incorrectly listed the contribution from the city of Binghamton as $115,000, rather than $150,000. It also did not include information on a state grant.