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StarkFresh addresses Alliance food desert with a new neighborhood grocery

The Alliance Community Center stands alone.
Tom Phillips
The Alliance Community Center will serve as the home for the second neighborhood grocery for StarkFresh when it opens its doors on October 9, 2023.

StarkFresh, a nonprofit focused on addressing food insecurity in Stark County, announced the grand opening of a new grocery in Alliance coming in early October.

The new store will be similar to the first one opened by StarkFresh in Canton in 2020, focused on people who do not have access to a vehicle or who cannot afford shopping at the bigger chain stores. StarkFresh says its groceries are full-service, neighborhood-sized stores. Tom Phillips, the Executive Director of StarkFresh says there is a big need for this store in this part of Alliance.

“Over the years we’ve identified areas where people have mobility challenges, that are low income, and there’s no food access,” Phillips said. “When the opportunity came to be a part of this Alliance Commons building and put a grocery store in there, we’d already identified that was an area in need.”

Stark County faces challenges when it comes to access to healthy foods. Feeding America estimates that in 2021, the most recent year for which data is available, the food insecurity rate in Stark County was 12% of the total population, and the child food insecurity rate was 14.9%.

“[The store] is designed to meet those immediate needs of a smaller neighborhood and not necessarily be a destination for people to go to buy their groceries for the whole month,” said Phillips. “Because it’s right in the community in that neighborhood, it becomes an asset where the money is staying in that neighborhood [and] employing people from that neighborhood if possible.”

The Alliance store will be double the size of the first store in Canton. Philips said they're planning to open a third location, also in Canton, in early 2024.

Fruits, vegetables and other items are piled inside a store.
Tom Phillips
Fruits, vegetables and other items are piled inside of the Canton StarkFresh storefront in 2020.

StarkFresh says its grocery stores are open to anyone, but it offers discounts to those in need, including half off fruits and vegetables to anyone with a SNAP card. Customers using SNAP will also be given an additional $5 discount on their purchase. The Alliance Commons location also includes a YWCA clothing store, a pharmacy and other services.

The Alliance location at 405 S. Linden Avenue will open October 9. The store hours will be Monday through Friday 10:30 a.m. - 6:30 p.m. and Saturdays 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

Emma MacNiven is a senior journalism student at Kent State University.