October 23, 2021


Free For All Food

Frankfort’s foodstuff desert: what’s been lost and what might occur

In December, soon soon after the metropolis purchased the old Bryant’s Pic-Pac setting up, Frankfort resident Devin Armstrong begun a petition.

“You can chat to just about anybody in South Frankfort and if you converse for 15 minutes or so, the want for a grocery right here will occur up,” Armstrong mentioned.

The petition, which asks the Metropolis of Frankfort to keep the previous Pic-Pac building as a grocery shop, has much more than 2,800 signatures.

“Grocery choices are incredibly constrained, and there are pretty handful of companies left to compete with Kroger and Walmart,” Armstrong’s petition reads. “With Help save a Whole lot on the West side of town likely out of organization, we will be still left with only these company behemoths, and several persons with transportation impediments will not be capable to effortlessly entry foodstuff on a regular basis.”

The former city commission prompt that the developing could be employed for a new fire station, as former Mayor Invoice Might and present Fire Main Wayne Briscoe have stressed the two the want for a new downtown station and the excellent environment that the setting up would supply.

Especially considering that Pic-Pac’s closing, the trouble of downtown Frankfort’s “food desert” has been a lot talked about. The Condition Journal has revealed many articles or blog posts on the problem, several citizens have decried the absence of meals sources downtown, and the town was even awarded a federal grant to come up with opportunity alternatives to the challenge.

With the departure of Pic-Pac, much of downtown Frankfort grew to become a “food desert,” which the U.S. Section of Agriculture defines as a reduced-money census tract wherever a considerable share of inhabitants have reduced entry to groceries. On the USDA’s map utilizing facts from 2015, when Pic-Pac was still in enterprise, all of downtown was deemed a small-revenue census tract, but only jap parts of the metropolis skilled as foods deserts. With Pic-Pac’s closure, that designation probable expanded to a considerable portion of downtown.

Even though price cut grocery chain ALDI opened very last 12 months on the west aspect, officers with the closer-to-downtown Help you save a Lot introduced final thirty day period that it would shut at the close of January, most likely worsening the difficulty.

Several group leaders and stakeholders met as component of the “Local Meals, Local Places” grant in September 2019 with hopes of addressing the challenge. The grant is a federal initiative that aids communities reinvest in present neighborhoods and enhance high quality of everyday living as they develop a area food stuff financial system.

But for a range of good reasons, several of the initiatives and plans mentioned on completion of the grant meetings surface to have absent by the wayside — the greatest reason becoming the COVID-19 pandemic.

Provided the news of Save a Lot’s closure on the west side, some in the group are nevertheless inquiring for answers that could fix the troubles mentioned by people who took component in the grant meetings.


The local community ambitions mentioned coming out of the grant meetings were somewhat lofty: Create a local meals coordinator placement, create a food items council and ascertain a remedy for downtown Frankfort’s food stuff desert.

Connie Lemley, treasurer at the Franklin County Farmer’s Sector, recounted some uncertainty about what to do immediately after Pic-Pac shut.

“I do not feel like we came to any excellent responses about groceries downtown,” Lemley stated. “There is a part of the motion strategy about that … and it is truly an ongoing obstacle for the community.”

Kentucky Cash Growth Corp. President and CEO Terri Bradshaw mentioned that for jobs she was designated as “lead” on, some needed funding that never came. This kind of was the case for a group schooling initiative.

“Our part, funding is the premier portion,” Bradshaw explained. “Our demand was to do a community education application to educate the community on the benefits of nearby foods, regional locations and business kitchens, but we really do not have the dollars to fork out somebody to do that instruction … . Of class the other motive is we can not definitely do a thorough group education and learning program in the center of a pandemic.”

Bradshaw claimed one more unfunded initiative was to accomplish a requires evaluation for the city’s food stuff landscape.

Adam Leonberger, with the Franklin County Cooperative Extension Business, was also tasked with major some initiatives following the meetings.

Just one individual achievement that he cited, which he partially attributes to the pandemic, is an increased range of people today interested in taking part in the local foods financial state by setting up their have gardens at house.

A conversation that Leonberger claimed has been place on hold is how the Previous Federal Building — currently Kentucky Condition University’s downtown annex — may well factor into downtown’s food items financial system.

“The major issue was striving to determine out what they preferred to do with it,” Leonberger recalled. “Some of that is a minor up in the air … . They floated some tips, like making use of it as a training kitchen and instructing folks how to prepare dinner nutritionally. Some stated how it could also be utilised to system develop … so additional regional meals from individuals who could possibly not have the equipment out on their farms can get processed and then out to men and women.”

Just one initiative that Bradshaw was equipped to dive deeper into was the prospective for a retail grocer to replace what Pic-Pac supplied to downtown — and in individual South Frankfort.

She claimed she worked with Related Wholesale Grocers Inc. to discover downtown Frankfort’s possibilities.

“We don’t have the populace appropriate now for a retail grocery,” Bradshaw mentioned.

She reported she reached out to many scaled-down grocers, together with satellites of much larger providers like Kroger and Complete Foods as well as some ethnic grocers, but none of the opportunity suitors was intrigued ample to consider on the Pic-Pac setting up.

But the endeavours could possibly not have been in vain if a proposed job led by a local community team — comprised of Joseph Fiala, Birch and Michelle Bragg, and Taylor Marshall — will come by way of.

Although nonetheless in flux, the effort and hard work would be multiuse establishment — Fiala named it a “community food hub.” It would be situated on Wilkinson Boulevard where by the previous Smitty Mart the moment was, next to Poppy’s Bakery.

The establishment would be incredibly near to just one of the Frankfort Housing Authority’s community housing tasks.

Bradshaw mentioned she is operating to get it extra funding by a KCDC-backed bank loan as well as supporting Marshall with reapplying this yr for a federal grant.

“The grant that they used for was a federal grant to deliver regional/healthy foods to parts that could not have accessibility to that ordinarily,” Bradshaw stated. “They’re arranging to consider SNAP and EBT food items stamps, and to do a method in which second-working day develop is significantly less costly.”

Bradshaw claimed the facility, which Marshall claimed late past calendar year could open as early as May, could be just what Frankfort demands in the put up-Pic-Pac period.

“It’s not just a area grocery,” Bradshaw stated. “What we ended up initial striving to do is substitute Pic-Pac with something like Pic-Pac. It will do what we were looking to do, which is deliver groceries to people today downtown.”

Yet another potential source of groceries, even though choices would be negligible, for downtown is the prospective opening of a convenience shop. Frankfort businessman Jeevan Malli hopes to transform the outdated Walkers Motor vehicle Clean on 2nd Road to a convenience store that would have offerings very similar to that of a gas station.

THE Need

Several community foodstuff vendors claimed that the require for yet another grocery source in downtown is apparent.

At the Franklin County Farmers Sector, which runs multiple courses for decreased-income people and individuals, Lemley explained that they’ve witnessed higher engagement than regular.

“This calendar year we have had larger use of SNAP than ever ahead of,” she claimed. “It’s really obvious to us that there is a will need to owning obtain to fruits and veggies all-around below … . Plenty of folks given that Pic-Pac closed have described that that’s an difficulty.”

In addition to accepting SNAP added benefits, the Farmers Marketplace also runs a “Double Dollars” software, which lets those making use of SNAP to get double the credits for selected food items at the sector.

Franklin County Unexpected emergency Food Pantry President Regina Wink-Swinford mourned the coming loss of the west side Preserve a Whole lot in particular.

“If you think about the community that is ideal all over Help save a Good deal, there are a selection of apartments — some of them decreased-income — all-around there,” Wink-Swinford mentioned. “I’m not sure what those citizens are heading to do. I guess they are just heading to get on buses.”

Swinford also mentioned that the town boundaries how quite a few grocery luggage a rider can consider on a bus. That restrict is 4, she explained, a likely source of stress for all those who require to feed their young children.

City Commissioner and downtown resident Leesa Unger said that even though she’s open up to any tips that might allay Frankfort’s existing meals desert situation, she has hopes for some type of grocery store in Frankfort’s core.

“There requires to be fantastic community discussion on this,” Unger stated. “Everyone desires a grocery retail outlet downtown. I consider it’s acquiring the suitable company, the appropriate individuals. I know what I want — I want to just be able to go get a gallon of milk and some greens downtown. There are so many alternatives and we just have to come across the proper a person for us.”

Armstrong, as a downtown resident himself, said that the Pic-Pac building appears to be the most most likely remedy.

“A good deal of the reason I want the Pic-Pac setting up to keep a grocery is it is a person of the only properties that we know can dwelling a grocery in downtown Frankfort,” Armstrong stated. “There are no other buildings with the exact attributes it has.

“I wholeheartedly aid the Fire Office in receiving to a new building. It’s a requirement. With that becoming reported, so is food stuff. If any individual doesn’t have a vehicle, they are just trapped concerning a rock and a tough position. A lot of people don’t have transportation all around here.”