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North St. Louis County nonprofit aims to open grocery store in food desert

Red Circle Nonprofit wants to offer healthier food options with a community-owned grocery store on New Halls Ferry Road.

ST. LOUIS — A former dry-cleaning business on New Halls Ferry Road may not look like much, but Red Circle Nonprofit founder Erica Williams has a vision.

"As a way to create jobs, stimulate the economy in this region and find a distribution spot for all of this wonderful produce we are endeavoring to open a community-owned grocery store," Williams said.

In 2018, three nearby Shop 'n Save grocery stores closed, leaving North County residents in a food desert.

"In this region we have a lot of convenience stores that sell shelf-stable, very high-processed, very low-quality in terms of nutrient foods, we have a lot of fast foods and it really impacts our health," Williams said.

The community-owned grocery store would provide a way to distribute healthier food options from her local farmer partnerships.

"We're going to grow food and show the neighbors as they're coming up to buy their groceries how they can grow some things at their house, and then also within the store there's going to be a bistro where we're going to sell affordable salads, soups, wraps so people can get a healthy meal," Williams said. 

So far, Williams raised about $17,000 of their $100,000 goal. 

"Sometimes when people are looking at regions that are lower-income or maybe no income they just expect people to just be able to take whatever they're given and people deserve to have choices," Williams said.

Williams hopes to reach their $100,000 goal for the down payment by April 1.

For more information or to donate, visit A Red Circle Nonprofit's website.