SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Rhonda Vesey has lived on Syracuse’s Southside since 1970. She doesn’t have a car and would often walk to Tops when it was in Valley Plaza.

“It meant that if you needed produce, quick easy and in a hurry, dairy products, meat products, the deli that it was hands away, footsteps away,” Vesey explained.

That hasn’t been the case since the grocery store closed in 2018.

“The people who live in this neighborhood deserve to be able to walk to a place and buy groceries and be able to spend their money that way as opposed to having to bus it or pay an Uber or somebody else.”

Ranette Releford, Community member

These neighbors decided it was time to take action, so they formed the group Food Access Healthy Neighborhoods Now (FAHNN) to help advocate for the return of a full-service grocery store and they’ve met with many leaders including at City Hall.

“We’ve also been in communication with the plaza owner, who is extremely open to the idea,” explained Eric Ennis, the Deputy Commissioner of Business Development in the Department of Neighborhood and Business Development. “Really the challenge has been identifying a grocer and food service vendor that’s willing to come into that space.”

To ensure neighbors have access to fresh produce, FAHNN is working with Brady Farm to host a farmstand in the plaza.

“We’re starting now because we know that it’s harvest time,” Releford said. “You got to have some harvest right in order to have that for the wintertime.”

“Syracuse, New York is the home of the most impoverished children in the United States of America. Some of those children live right here in this community and they don’t have a grocery store.”

Rhonda Vesey, Chairperson of Food Access Healthy Neighborhoods Now (FAHNN)

That’s why they’ll continue to advocate.

To learn more about FAHNN visit their Facebook page.