Homeland is partnering with RestoreOKC, a relationship-based, community-driven development organization, on a 6,800-square-foot grocery store in a Northeast Oklahoma City area long considered a food desert.
The full-service store called The Market at Eastpoint will have a grand opening April 21. It will be located in the Eastpoint development at 1708 NE 23rd St., fulfilling a need for local food after the community’s last grocery store closed in August 2019, Homeland and RestoreOKC said in a release.
The store will have an array of fresh foods, such as organic fruits and vegetables grown on RestoreOKC’s 5-acre Urban Farm led by 18 high school students from the Northeast Oklahoma City community; and an Eastside Eatery, with fresh baked breads and ready-to-eat hot foods prepared by community chef Brandi Jones of the former Family Affair Restaurant.
In addition to bringing food to the area, The Market at EastPoint will create 30-40 jobs for the community.
Putting Their Heads Together
The Market at Eastpoint became a reality through conservations between Homeland and RestoreOKC as they collaborated early in the pandemic to address community needs, Marc Jones, president and CEO of Oklahoma City-based HAC, a 2021 WGB Remarkable Independent that operates 80 grocery stores under banners such as Homeland, Piggly Wiggly and Food World, told WGB earlier this year.
“Those conversations turned into us collectively recognizing the need for more than just a food pantry in that part of town and putting our heads together on how we could operate a store with them,” he said at the time.
Together, Homeland and RestoreOKC formulated a plan for a public-private partnership that would allow the two partners to co-operate the grocery store. As a 501c3, RestoreOKC was able to focus efforts on fundraising and securing product donations and partnerships that could help sustain the store through the early years, while Homeland used its expertise in the grocery industry to streamline the process and provide oversight and infrastructure.
“We are thrilled to see our public-private partnership with Restore OKC come to life. We have an opportunity here to serve our community in a deeper way and make an impact on food security and this store is a great way to do that,” Jones said in a release announcing the store’s grand opening. “This is an important project for our employee-owners, and we are proud to work hand in hand with the community to make it a reality.”
The fundraising campaign spawned partnerships with organizations such as Life.Church, which gave an early $300,000 grant. Homeland and RestoreOKC also note that residents and grantors from Northeast Oklahoma City, neighborhood associations, churches, groups such as Black Lives Matter, family foundations, the city of Oklahoma City and even Tony the Tiger from the Kellogg Foundation were pivotal in helping raise the $1.3 million in funding that was needed for the store.
“We just simply couldn’t be prouder about the expression of unity and generosity that has made this project possible. And then, on top of those development funds, to have received a $1 million operational grant from the Inasmuch Foundation at the end of 2020 is something we still can’t quite wrap our heads around,” said RestoreOKC Director Caylee Dodson. “It’s truly been such a collaborative effort with a beautiful result.”
Grand Opening Celebrations
The Market at EastPoint will celebrate its grand opening beginning at 9 a.m. April 21, with music from the Douglass High School band and remarks from Jones and Dodson, as well as councilwoman Nikki Nice and Rev. Michael McDaniel of Northeast Missionary Baptist Church.
A Family Day will also be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 24, with the Rumble the Bison, basketball team Oklahoma City Thunder’s mascot, welcoming and entertaining guests from 11 a.m. to noon.
Once the doors open to The Market at EastPoint, attendees will be welcome to tour the store, meet the staff and shop for groceries.