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Indy Fresh Brings Second Chances to a Food Desert

Indy Fresh

Indy Fresh Brings Second Chances to a Food Desert

Indy Fresh Market. Even the name sets the stage for something terrific. After all, who doesn’t dig Indy (aka independence) and Fresh (as in new and fresh). And this Indy Fresh is chock-a-block with fresh new independence.

Okay, so the name is geographically tied to the endeavor. Yet, one gets the distinct impression that they’d be waving the Indy flag even if it wasn’t set in Indianapolis. Like we said, this concern is nothing if not independent.

It’s also Fresh, as in fresh produce – yes, but also as in fresh ideas. In the first place, setting up and selling fresh produce in a food desert is a fresh idea. Employing second chancers takes that fresh idea to a whole new extreme. Very few companies are open to ex-cons. Even fewer actively seek ex-cons to do their bidding.

Indy Fresh Market: Second Chance Club

If there were a club of companies that employed ex-cons, Indy Fresh would occupy a spot at the head if the table. Unfortunately , there is no such club. That leaves Indy Fresh basically alone with the initiative. In fact, when we searched Second Chance on Indeed, we got only two responses, one for a fleet vehicle washer, the other for a truck driver.

Indy Fresh goes beyond all that. Way beyond. So far beyond in fact that half of its staff have criminal records.

Indy Fresh Market “was a second chance for me,” Indy Fresh founder and co-operator Marckus Williams told HuffPost’s Philip Lewis. “For some people, this is their first job.”

Better yet, working at the grocery store will provide them with the opportunity to not only improve their own lives but also to leave an impact on a community that desperately needs it.

And community is a HUGE part of Indy Fresh Market’s gameplan. After all, before Indy Fresh came along this neighborhood was a verifiable food desert.

“For five or six miles, there was no place to get food anywhere around here unless it was the Family Dollar or gas stations,” Williams explains. The area was once home to Kroger, Walmart and Safeway, but they’ve all closed in the past several years.”

In enter Indy Fresh, which has also become a de facto neighborhood hangout.

“It’s a new staple in the area now,” he says. “You can run into people you haven’t seen in a while, make connections, reconnections, hugs, smiles all inside.”


Hip Hip Hooray!

A study from Indiana University’s Public Policy Institute said the full-service, 16,772-square-foot grocery store will generate over $11 million for the community. But even that pales in comparison to what it will accomplish with the community’s soul. To see a store so embraced must mean it’s embraceable. And Indy is unmitigatedly embraceable.

Just think of the folks who no longer have to go without fresh produce because there wasn’t a reachable outlet. Or the fresh-out-of-jail ex-con who now has a place to apply his new sobriety. The neighbors who get to be neighbors again. All because their neighborhood has a full-service grocery store.

And a great grocery story. This is one grocery story with a happy ending on each and every page!
We at Healing Properties don’t know why more and more food deserts aren’t being served, but there’s gotta be a way to get things in motion. Maybe it’s the local politicos which need to step up to the proverbial plate. Or perhaps it’s the neighborhood non-profits. Maybe it’s the entrepreneurial young guns who are just coming up. Then again, it’s probably a cross section of all three and more. Whatever it is, this endeavor proves that it’s doable.

We applaud Marckus Williams and Indy Fresh Market; may he set in motion a thousand like-minded enterprises across the country!

Image courtesy WTHR

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