Reporting Ron Matz
BALTIMORE (WJZ)—For many years, Baltimore’s inner city neighborhoods have been plagued by a lack of supermarkets and healthy food options, but in one neighborhood that’s about to change.
Ron Matz reports on the opening of a new full service grocery store in East Baltimore.
“We want to provide the community with a healthy alternative and bring fresh produce and fresh meat and fresh dairy to the community that’s been lacking,” Erich March said.
“We want it to be a community space,” Michele Speaks-March said. “People can come here and get their produce, dairy and bakery goods. We’ll also have a really robust prepared foods section.”
Fresh fruit and vegetables, prepared foods and more. They’re stocking the shelves at the new Apples and Oranges Fresh Market.
Owners Erich March and wife Michele Speaks-March say it’s long overdue.
“What we want to do is challenge the myth that it’s difficult to eat healthy. We believe it’s more economical to eat healthy. You can buy a chicken and a couple of sides and feed your family for a couple of days versus going into a fast food restaurant and getting something to feed your family once,” Speaks-March said.
“Supermarkets figure they can make more money in the suburbs,” March said. “They don’t want to invest in our community. They don’t want to come in because they take up 4 to 5 acres. We’re trying to demonstrate here that you can have a full service supermarket in a compact space.”
March says there’s a need for healthy food options in the city.
“I grew up in this community. I remember the markets that used to be here and are no longer here: North Avenue Market, the Belair Market. The markets just moved out of our community. No one’s coming back, so we had to decide whether to leave it like that or do something about it,” March said.
And they have with this full service grocery store.
“It’s been a real challenge getting the store open, but we’re just so excited about it. You look around. This was an empty shell, and now it’s a beautiful place,” Speaks-March said.
With this new supermarket comes new jobs: 21 for this East Baltimore neighborhood.
“We worked with the Mayor’s Office of Employment Development,” Speaks-March said. “They did a screening of 60 to 70 people for this project. We hired 21 people, and the bulk of them came through that process. We found there was so much excitement about this project. People wanted to be a part of it.”
There are no sugary drinks here, but there’s new access to a healthy alternative.
“We’re finding that kids love fruit,” March said. “We’ve done health fairs and you would think we were giving out candy when we give out apples and oranges. We do know kids in this community crave this kind of food but they just have no access to it.”
A ribbon cutting for Apples and Oranges Fresh Market will be held 9 a.m. Saturday.