SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) – A full-service grocery store has arrived in downtown Syracuse. The Syracuse Cooperative Market opened its doors Wednesday to provide affordable and accessible food options to a lower-income downtown Syracuse community.
The new Co-op is the first full-service grocery store downtown and offers people the chance to get fresh and healthy foods in an area that lacks them, according to Syracuse Cooperative Market General Manager Jeremy DeChario. The ABRA defines a full-service grocery store as a market selling fresh and uncooked meat and seafood, fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy products, grains and dry groceries.
The Co-op is located inside the Salt City Market on South Salina Street in downtown Syracuse. DeChario said the new Co-op has been in the works for a while.
“When I first became general manager seven years ago, I saw the need for [a Co-op downtown],” DeChario said. “We’ve been working with the folks at the Salt City Market for the past three years to get this project off the ground.”
According to the Syracuse Food Environment Report on the 13202 ZIP code, 56% of the population lives in poverty, and 50% of the households lack a personal vehicle. DeChario said the new Co-op is focused on providing accessible options to an impoverished Syracuse community.
“I’m hoping the downtown, the south side, and the near west side communities are all able to benefit from having a full-service grocery store right here within walking distance,” DeChario said.
DeChario emphasized affordability for the Co-op. In the 13202 ZIP code, 48% of households qualify for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, according to the Syracuse Food Environment Report. Those who qualify for these benefits receive an Electronic Benefits Transfer card they can use towards groceries.
In conjunction with SNAP EBT, the Co-op is launching the Double Up Food Bucks program that gives eligible customers an additional dollar to spend on fresh foods when they use a dollar of their SNAP allotment. DeChario looks forward to getting SNAP EBT clearance so the Co-op can accommodate the community’s needs.
“We couldn’t open our doors with SNAP EBT. So, for us, we have to apply for it, and now we’re open,” DeChario said. “So, as soon as we can get it, we’ll have it.”
While the Co-op is a community grocery store, you do not have to be a member to shop at one of its two Syracuse locations. DeChario said the east side Co-op on Kensington Road serves fresh and affordable food to roughly 4,500 people. Meanwhile, DeChario has higher aspirations for the new downtown location.
“I hope within two years we’re doing a very similar amount of business, and I hope within four [years], we’re doing about a third to 50% more [than the Kensington location],” DeChario said.
The downtown Syracuse Cooperative Market is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. at 484 S. Salina St.