PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Peoria’s Southside has long been a food desert, but that could soon change with the promise of a new grocery store.
“A grocery store to me is a basic necessity,” said Destiny Hayes.
Destiny Hayes was born and raised in Peoria’s Southside and said the closest grocery store in the area is across the river. Hayes said not having these simple resources creates an ongoing cycle of poverty and crime in her community.
“I hear a lot of people talking about the Southside in a negative, but if we were to bring more jobs and opportunities here, the crime rates would go down. You know, no one wakes up and chooses to get involved in crime,” said Hayes.
Pastor Chuck Brown, and his church, Victory Christian, are looking to bridge that gap and much more by opening a new grocery store, “Victory Foods.”
“In addition to the grocery store part of this will be the American dream center which will house real estate financial services like mortgage origination, credit support,” said Pastor Chuck Brown.
Brown said the project is still in its early stages but hopes they can open by the end of the year giving the community a new, positive look.
“By the year of 2025 it’s estimated that the south side will shrink by at least another 2 percent and so as we continue to see people fly out of the area, it’s very discouraging but I think we can bring something here that can start a fire that can also bring a difference and bring people back to this side of town,” said Brown.
Brown said they’re hoping to take over the building at 210 S. Western Ave in Peoria, across from the Dollar General. It was formerly an ALDI until 2013 then was opened as a Save-A-Lot in 2017. It only lasted a year before closing once more.
Over in Madison Park, the Kroger on Harmon Highway became the only destination for fresh food in the south end. In 2018, it closed as well, which created a food desert in the area.
According to previous reporting, “a food desert is an area that has limited access to affordable and nutritious food. This applies to neighbors in urban and suburban neighborhoods that live one mile from a supermarket and neighbors in a rural neighborhood that live 10 miles from a supermarket.”