By Savanna Samuels, Howard University News Service
Since 2015, Good Food Market has been a staple of the Woodridge neighborhood for its available and affordable produce and grocery items to promote healthy living, all thanks to people like Philip Sambol and Kris Garin. The purpose of both Sambol and Garin for the business was to put a grocery store in a traditional food desert neighborhood like the Woodridge community of Northeast D.C.
“It’s not that many grocery stores around. We’re one of those organizations that’s trying to put a little spot everywhere for those people that live in poverty,” said Crystal Jackson, a sales clerk. “We just try to provide those resources to everyone.”
To define a food desert, it is an area or neighborhood that does not have easy or any access to fresh or healthy food. Along with feeding the community, they have made it their duty to assist with the development of job skills and “intensive” training by employing those in the local community, which helps them with keeping jobs for long periods of time. Good Food Market provides both organic and conventional food that is served as options for those in the area.
“Truly through feeding people is how they’ve impacted the community,” said Mary Ragan, manager of human resources and culture for Good Food Market.
2014 was the year that Philip Sambol and Kris Garin partnered to start the change for Woodridge. “I know that his [Kris Garin] passion is to feed. It really is to solve this issue, which is that people don’t have access to the most essential things in our lives, which is food,” said Ragan.
The goal of both Sambol and Garin is to put grocery stores in food deserts across the nation. Sambol, the executive director of Oasis Community Partners, has had prior experience with tackling the food desert issue in cities like New Orleans. Oasis Community Partners is a non-profit organization which owns Good Food Market. Through this organization, Sambol has had the opportunity to connect with community on a larger scale with programs and engagements. This includes healthy cooking classes and garden and store tours of the market for school children. This also led to the present partnership, as he was approached by Garin, who is the owner of the grocery store in Northeast D.C. His partnerships in the community with organizations like the ANC 5 and Community Food Works has provided financial relief for those in Woodridge through discounts and the acceptance of food stamps/EBT.
“It definitely has impacted the community because a lot of the people in this area have food stamps and don’t have a vehicle. It’s like real convenient,” said Tamisha Woodfork, a sales clerk. “A lot of customers say they would rather come in here than go to Giant because they can get in and out. They find the people that they come into contact with here are nicer than a normal grocery store.”
Due to a prior commitment, both Sambol and Garin could not be present to speak personally about their contribution and involvement in the creation of the market. However, it is clear how impact their involvement has been to the betterment of the Woodridge neighborhood.
And they have just begun. There will be an addition to the Good Food Market family in Ward 8 of Washington, D.C. at the end of 2019 on South Capitol Street. This space will also include a café and a community space.
“I’ve been here for almost two years and I think the future is bright. We just continue to need the support from the community as we support them,” said Jackson.