SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Jeremy DeChario has been working to bring a cooperative market expansion downtown for almost seven years. And next week, all that work will pay off. The Syracuse Cooperative Market will open its second location on Wednesday, April 14, at the Salt City Market on South Salina Street.
“I think opening up in the downtown neighborhood immediately adjacent to the near west side and the south side is a great opportunity to sort of sing the benefits of cooperation and cooperative to communities that we haven’t been able to traditionally reach by our location up in the Westcott neighborhood,” he said.
DeChario is proud to be opening the first full-service grocery store in the area.
“We’ve been working very closely with the Syracuse Urban Partnership and the Salt City Market for the last three to make it so that the co-op could be downtowns first full-service grocery store and make it in a way that is accessible for all of the community to come in and feel welcome and be able to shop at the co-op and get the high-quality products that we’re known for,” he said.
There has been debate over whether Downtown Syracuse and the South Side are considered food deserts. Food deserts are urban areas where access to affordable, good quality fresh food is limited. The new co-op location sits just around the corner from Centro’s bus hub, adding to the accessibility of fresh food.
“Our produce, especially our fresh food mix, is going to be focused on both organic options that we’ve been known for, for 45 years and also bringing in lower-priced conventional options to be able to offer affordable food for the communities that surround us,” said DeChario.
He stressed the importance of this store not only be accessible but also affordable to all people in the area.
“Additionally, once we are given the clearance for our SNAP EBT, we’ll be able to offer a program called Double Up Food Bucks which will give people additional money when they purchase fresh food from the co-op with their EBT cards.”
The Syracuse Cooperative Market is owned by community members who decide to opt-in, but anyone can purchase from the store. The first location in the Westcott/University neighborhood has been around since 1972 and was founded with the intention of having locally-produced food, and those values have stuck.
DeChario says that last year, the co-op did business in the local season with over 800 local farms for various products on various scales.
“At the height of summer, we’re able to get products from local farms to fill our produce section, but this being Syracuse, we don’t get bananas and avocados locally and everybody wants them,” he said. “So we’re able to bring in ethically sourced, fair-trade bananas and avocados from national suppliers who bring them in from ethical farmers and distributed worldwide. “
He says that they do as much as they can to support local farmers because without them the community wouldn’t have the vibrant foodshed that exists in the central new york area.
The co-op will be opening Wednesday the 14th and is open every day from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
DeChario says, “We want to bring a co-op to every neighborhood that wants one so let us know where you think our next location should be.”