Church Recognized for Working in Food Desert

Source: Baptist Press

When Cornerstone Baptist Church began exploring the possibility of developing a grocery store in a Dallas food desert, many snickered. One college professor even went so far as to imply that a store without beer, wine, lottery tickets or cigarettes wouldn’t attract clientele, senior pastor Chris Simmons recalled.

Undaunted, the church pressed forward and established Southpoint Community Market, which offers fresh meats, vegetables and other items.

Winner of the Dallas Business Journal’s award for “Best Real Estate Deals of 2021: Neighborhood Impact,” the grocery store offers discounts for residents as a way of helping the community.

“It is an effort, because we are in a food desert, to bring fresh and affordable items to the neighborhood so that individuals don’t have to pay a $5- to $6- bus ride to get some of their basic essentials,” Simmons said. “It’s been a great success. We’ve seen a 600 percent increase since we opened. The community is really responding.”

In their announcement, the Dallas Business Journal wrote, “Located at 2839 S. Ervay St., Southpoint Community Market is a nearly 1,300-square-feet store providing access to affordable and healthy food for residents in the area. In its first month, the store made about $2,500 in revenue, and last month, the store generated about $14,000.”

Organized by the Cornerstone Community Development Corporation, The Real Estate Council’s (TREC) helped fund the project with a $78,000 grant from TREC Community Investors and $273,000 in in-kind and pro-bono services secured by the Associate Leadership Council class.

“One thing we were able to do is get a donor who was able to help us, and so we’re able to bring some of the items that they’re not able to get on the EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer card) down to affordable prices,” Pastor Simmons said. “He (the developer) is able to go to the dollar store and get paper towels, toilet paper, and then we charge half of what he pays for it. They all pay something because we want them to have the dignity of paying something, but they don’t pay the full price.”

In addition to running the market, the church and the Community Development Corporation has a soup kitchen, a medical clinic, a laundromat, a clothes closet, a shower room and other services.

“Our vision was to bring 7-11 convenience at a Walmart price, so individuals could still affordably shop in their neighborhood,” the Dallas Business Journal quoted Simmons. “We discovered that we’re in a poor community, but people have access to funds and will spend money if you provide the items that they need and want, so that’s been very encouraging.”

Currently the market is open six days a week including Sundays and is staffed by one full time employee and three part-time workers.

Source: Baptist Press