Developer Rodney Anderson has established a grocery store in a town that had been a food desert for nearly 50 years.
KCRG-TV reports that shoppers in Waterloo, IA, gathered to celebrate the opening of a 28,000-square-foot building, which will be home to All-In Grocers. Additionally, the building will house Grandma’s Hands Restaurant, the Ms. Willie Mae Wright Community Center, and the 1619 Freedom School.
“We got here tonight by perseverance, teamwork, and getting it done,” Anderson, a Waterloo resident, said.
For Anderson, the space was essential to dismantle economic disadvantages that had existed within the community for years. Waterloo was listed among the 10 worst cities for Blacks to reside in, per Black Excellence. Looking to change the fate of the area, the community center is addressing food disparities and will also work to boost the local economy by creating more jobs.
”All-In Grocers providing jobs, providing job training, [having] a community center, and [taking] us from being a food desert to a place where you can actually find fresh produce and vegetables, to me, is a great inspiration to this entire community, and only part of our efforts to move our community forward,” explained Waterloo Mayor Quentin Hart, according to KCRG-TV.
Looking ahead, Anderson hopes the grocery store and community center will serve as a blueprint for other areas looking to make impactful change.
“The hope for All-In is there’s another All-In out there in another city, that they can, you know, take this model and spread it to their community,” Anderson told the outlet. “…But one of the biggest things is, knowing that in our community that this could be the lightning rod to make other developments, such as housing, happen.”