COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday marked the opening of a new Mid-Ohio Market at St. Stephen's Community House.
Raymond Rhone, director of the food nutrition center at St. Stephen's, said he expects to serve at least 750 families a week. Once things get rolling, Rhone thinks that number will be more like a thousand families over the course of five days.
"The goal is to truly make this feel like a family-owned market, essentially where they know it's a welcoming space," said Rhone. “It's a safe space you can come in, get your food, and don't have to feel any type of way about it.”
Rhone knows a thing or two about helping families that need a boost. He's in his fourth year as Food Nutrition Coordinator at St. Stephen's Community House.
“There are situations where life happens, you're kind of down on your luck and you got to choose between the bills and food,” said Rhone. “So, that's what we're here for, to help bridge that gap.”
That's where the new Mid-Ohio Market comes in. It will replace the old warehouse-style pantry that's served generations of families. Workers and volunteers would fill boxes and deliver them curbside.
Rhone expects some 200 families from all parts of Franklin County to visit Monday through Friday, where they will select produce, meat, and even some personal hygiene items — things they want or need.
“If you open up a food box and there's items in there that you can't eat or you won't eat, for whatever the reason, maybe, that'll be disappointing,” said Rhone. “And that's your box for the week so you'll have to find another resource — spend time, money, gas. That's why this Mid-Ohio Market transition is great, because they get to come in, see what we have available and they can get exactly what they want.”
Tuesday's ribbon-cutting ceremony means the Mid-Ohio Market is officially open for business at St. Stephen's. While there are carts and items on shelves, you won't find a cash register in the market. All costs are covered.
Shoppers will notice each item has a number on top of the shelf or on the cooler, which will determine the maximum amount of the particular product they can take with them.
Each market also connects people to various services like health care, housing support, or job training.