A new grocery store in Waco will help address residents who do not have access to healthy foods in their neighborhood and could also help decrease obesity rates.
The Jubilee Food Market, which is expected to have its soft opening on Nov. 21, is located at 1500 Colcord Avenue, in a zip code considered a food desert. The U.S. Department of Agriculture considers a food desert when a residence is located a mile away from a grocery store or a place where healthy food is sold.
Mission Waco’s Executive Director Jimmy Dorrell, who started the project last year after the organization purchased the $134,000 building, said the community donated $520,000 to help with the construction costs. In addition, he said a fourth of the contractors working on the property have offered discounts or donated in-kind supplies.
"The community has been incredibly generous. We are so thankful to Waco and people outside of Waco that understand what we are doing and the importance of having fresh vegetables when they're over 2.5 miles away,” Dorrell said.
The non-profit grocery store will sell fruits, vegetables, fresh meats and more to members of the community. Some of the vegetables sold will be grown in the Aquaponic Greenhouse that will open next to the building.
According to Dorrell, the current barriers to accessing healthy food go beyond the distance residents have from the nearest grocery store.
“The bigger problem is when you get your check from work. Well, that is the convenience store. Well, you pay more for food for less quality food so that's the reason there are no options,” Dorrell said.
Waco-McLennan County Public Health District Health Education Specialist Courtney Wollard said food deserts may be a high contributing factors to high obesity rates.
In McLennan County, the obesity rates increased from 39 percent to 42.6 percent from 2013 to 2016.
"People are not having access to a whole lot of healthy foods. They are may be not cooking the foods in a healthy way so we will like to address that,” Wollard said. “I believe this type of grocery store will help in a big way to eliminate the barriers that residents have accessing healthy foods but it's not the only way. We do support the Veggie Van, which is the mobile food market. They travel to a lot of this areas that are considered food deserts.”
The Veggie Van currently stops at 11 locations in the Waco during the week.
The Jubilee Food Market is expected to have its grand opening on Dec. 3.
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