WILMINGTON—After a fire destroyed the Village Plaza, including Everybody’s Supermarket IGA, the surrounding neighborhood was pushed toward becoming a food desert, leaving numerous local groups scrambling for a way to help.
What’s a food desert? Find out in our three-part series
The neighborhood around Greenfield and 10th streets has been left without a nearby source of fresh food; there’s a Family Dollar a few blocks away, but the store offers little in the way of fresh produce or proteins. The nearest grocery store is Food Lion, 1-mile-and-a-half away.
That may not sound far, but for the elderly, those with disabilities, and even your average resident trying to carry home a family-sized load of groceries on foot in the Wilmington summer heat–it becomes a hardship.
Uncertain fate for Everybody’s Supermarket
William Baicy, who owns the property where Everybody’s Supermarket IGA once stood, said he is saddened by the community’s loss.
“I feel just terrible, they don’t have much but the Family Dollar there, there’s no proper place to get groceries nearby if you don’t have a car,” Baicy said.
Baicy said he’d like to see all the tenants of the Village Plaza return to the location in the future, including Spiro’s Breakfast and Lunch House, Quails Quality Cuts, and the City Life Church. However, Baicy said the matter’s out of his hands for the time being.
“It’s in the hands of insurance companies, it’s – I don’t completely understand the process, I’ve never seen anything like it before, but I understand it’s up to the insurance people first,” Baicy said.
‘From talk to action’
In the meantime several local groups, including the Good Shepherd Center, Support the Port and NourishNC, have worked to help alleviate the food desert conditions.
Next month, NourishNC and Support the Port will co-host a pop-up market.
Steve McCrossan, executive director of Nourish NC, said the residents will get coupons to exchange for fresh fruits and vegetables.
“We’re calling them ‘nourish bucks,’ so they can pretty much shop for what they need, but it will be free for them,” McCrossan said.
The event will also come with a free hot breakfast, music and a host of other activities—as well as provide an opportunity to distribute information.
“Part of this is–the community lost a grocery store, but they also lost a breakfast joint, a church, a real community place, and we’re trying to recreate some of that,” McCrossan said.
McCrossan was clear, NourishNC doesn’t have the resources to sustainably run this kind of market. But it is hoped it’s actions will help other local organizations turn the corner for “talk to action” in a productive way.
“Look, our mission is feeding kids, period, but at the same time these are our neigbors—we have to do something,” McCrossan said. “Our biggest hope is that we can use this a testing ground. We want to know, what do they need, when do they want it? Would a market like this help once a week, twice a week? What’s the best way for someone to help.”
Ultimately, McCrossan said the community will need a long-term solution, preferably owned by the community.
“I mean owned figuratively and literally, we hope the community has a say in what they need and what comes next,” he said.
The pop-up farmers market
The pop-up farmers market will be Saturday, June 23, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., outside the former Old Century Mills building on 8th and Greenfield streets. You can read more info about the market on NourishNC’s blog.
NourishNC and other community partners are still working to lock down “all the good stuff,” as McCrossan put it. However, the market is still looking to acquire a rental tent, preferably 40 feet by 40 feet, two portable toilets, a bounce-house, 500 water bottles with ice and coolers, and an organization to handle preparation and service of breakfast for up to several hundred people.
Those interested in donating can do so here, and can contact Steve McCrossan here.
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