Only on 31: New Produce Option Possible for Peoria's South Side

Published 06/04 2014 09:23PM

Updated 06/04 2014 10:45PM

PEORIA – It’s been six months since people living on Peoria’s South Side had a grocery store in their neighborhood.

That’s half a year of having little choice when it comes to feeding themselves and their families.

A group was formed to come up with plans for a new store in the neighborhood.

First District Councilwoman Denise Moore says what’s next for her district is something to be proud of.

When the Aldi store on Peoria’s South Side closed in January, many people were not happy.

Today, it still sits empty.

A real estate company bought it.

Now, it’s shopping around for a retailer to fill it.

“The problem we’re finding is a lot of these stores that have smaller footprints,” says Councilwoman Denise Moore, “they don’t have a footprint as small as this building.”

Until a new shop signs up, the only choices are convenience stores.

“They’re convenient,” says Moore, “but you pay for convenience. And when you’re already in a limited budget, it’s very difficult to stretch the budget to buy all you need at the convenient store.”

An entirely different option could soon be on the way.

Across from where the empty Aldi store sits, a new process is starting to sprout up.

Soon, organizers hope it all makes way for what they’re calling the supermarket park.

“That’s something that’s well underway as we speak, so I’m most excited about that,” says Moore.

The gardens are already a growing part of a community project with Bosch Corporation in Peoria, OSF St. Francis Medical Center, and the nature-based, Gifts in the Moment Foundation.

The program will expand if the supermarket park is approved.

People can shop near the garden, or two food vans will deliver fresh produce, from there and other farmer’s markets, to neighborhoods like Peoria’s Taft Homes, at least once a week.

“Quite honestly, anyone can come down to the Western Avenue location where the supermarket park would be, and buy fruits and vegetables from there,” explains Moore. “You don’t have to live in the first district, even.”

Councilwoman Moore says the produce park hinges on some money from Peoria City Council.

Gifts in the Moment will run the program and budget, but OSF and Bosch will stay heavily involved in funding, too.

“I’m sure we’ll be able to carve out something from that budget,” adds Moore. “I’m hopeful other city community members will see the value of it and vote in favor of it.”

Moore says she wants the proposal presented to council at its June 24th meeting.

If approved, the funding would secure key components of the program, like the food vans.

People living in Peoria could see the program kick off as early as July.

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