Growing Hope On The South Side

The City Councilwoman who represents Peoria's South Side wants to expand an effort to bring fresh produce to that part of town.

An organization called Gifts in the Moment has been quietly operating a community garden at Marquette and Western for a few years. The garden was recently noticed by Councilwoman Denise Moore, who's been trying to get fresh produce options for the South Side since ALDI left earlier this year. Moore says she's now working with the group to turn the garden into a "supermarket park."

"What that would be is other community gardens in the area would collaborate and provide vegetables that would be sold from that location," said Moore.

But wait, there's more. She says the park would send some of its products out in two mobile food vans.

"Those would be refrigerated vans, dispatched to certain areas at a designated date and time every week to provide produce to those areas," Moore said.

She's now pushing for the city to chip in some "seed money" for the project. Moore says the cost could be anywhere from $50,000 to $125,000, depending on what kind of grants or financing options are available. In addition, she'd like to have the city contribute $200,000 to further research ways of addressing the so-called "food desert" in Peoria's poorest neighborhoods, including the South Side and the North Valley.

"We would rather feed folks in this way than having folks line up for government programs. This is a lot more cost-effective," Moore said.

She says the supermarket park could be reality by July, although it wouldn't start producing fresh vegetables until early fall. Moore is hoping a funding option will reach the City Council by its June 24 meeting.

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