A Grocery Store with a Mission
Breaking down barriers to healthy eating
Healthy food. We all know we should be eating it, but what does it mean to “eat healthy?” Is it an achievable way of life for everyone?
For some people’s budgets, it may not be possible to shop both healthy and affordable at major grocers.
For some households, it may not be possible to make it to a grocery store every week.
For some individuals, it may not be realistic to create healthy meals every night.
Whatever the barrier is to healthy eating, the Cultivate Hope Corner Store is here to help.
What is the Cultivate Hope Corner Store?
We are a small, nonprofit grocery store located in the historic Hosmer Building on the corner of Ellis Boulevard and E Avenue, near downtown Cedar Rapids. This beautifully remodeled space provides reduced-cost produce that is fresh and local, as well as other dry goods and food staples. Groundswell Cafe supplies fresh, ready-to-eat meals at the store. There is also a small seating area where we host food workshops and other community-building events.
The Vision & Core Values
Our vision is to make the Cultivate Hope Corner Store a vibrant space that brings neighbors together and provides a convenient location for healthy food in a food desert neighborhood.
To reach this vision, we’re focusing on five core values:
- Support a strong community
- Increase food security
- Invest in local people and neighborhoods
- Encourage healthy living
- Express care for sustainably-grown food
These core values can be seen throughout the Corner Store, from the space itself and the people who work here, to the items found on the shelves.
Free Produce and our Pay-it-Forward Process
The cost of groceries shouldn’t be a barrier to healthy eating, but finding affordable produce can be a challenge for any number of reasons, especially when living in a food desert neighborhood with limited shopping options
At the Cultivate Hope Corner Store, we offer a Free Produce section so our shoppers can stretch their budget and incorporate more healthy fruits and vegetables in their meals. These free items are available for everyone, no questions asked.
The Free Produce section is supported by donations to our Pay-it-Forward Fund by our generous Corner Store shoppers. If you can afford it, simply round up or add a little extra to your total to help keep this area stocked
Good Meals To Go
In partnership with Groundswell Cafe, we have developed the Good Meals To Go program as a healthier alternate to a fast food meal. This program was created with many different needs in mind, from not having the time or knowledge to make a healthy meal, to not having the resources or abilities to cook. For $5 or less, you’ll get a delicious, made-from-scratch meal that heats up in the microwave.
Our chefs at Groundswell have developed a rotating assortment of recipes made from scratch, with vegetarian and gluten-free options available.
Community Gathering Space
Part of a healthy neighborhood involves connections with others in your community. Whether you’d like a space to sit and eat one of our Good Meals To Go, or have a cup of coffee with family and friends, the community gathering space near the back of the store is open to all.
A common barrier to healthy eating is simply lacking the knowledge to make healthy meals. A key component of the Corner Store is providing that knowledge to the community at no cost. We host classes on making a shopping list, shopping on a budget, and reading food labels, as well as more hands-on cooking demonstrations and learning how to preserve leftovers. We also have recipe cards available in the store and online to learn new dishes, or simply how to incorporate ingredients you haven’t used before.
Part of supporting the community through a local grocery store involves a dedication to supporting local people and vendors. Opening the Corner Store has provided jobs for people living in the area, with 80% of our staff living within 1.5 miles of the store.
By purchasing products from growers and vendors in the area, we keep your dollars local and support your neighbors. When relationships are formed with these vendors, we learn their growing or processing practices. It also supports the environment by cutting down on food miles and, in turn, reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Bringing Our Food Programs Together
The Cultivate Hope Corner Store is a natural extension of the food programs at Matthew 25. At the heart of our mission is the Cultivate Hope Urban Farm, where produce is grown near downtown Cedar Rapids and provides a platform for food education for both children and life-long learners. This produce is sold at weekly Farmers Markets on the Urban Farm, used in dishes at Groundswell Cafe, and sold here at our grocery store. The Cafe provides meals to everyone, regardless of their ability to pay, and partners with us to provide our Good Meals To Go. With these three locations working together, we can provide fresh, local produce and food to core neighborhoods and beyond.
How You Can Help
The easiest way to support the Cultivate Hope Corner Store is to shop here and to tell your friends and family! Even if you don’t live in the neighborhood, just doing 10 percent of your shopping with us will greatly help. If you’re looking to do a bit more, add a pay-it-forward donation to your grocery total to support our Free Produce section.
Do you know some great recipes made with food in our store? Send them to us and we will print recipe cards for shoppers! Or, let us know if you’d like to teach a workshop on something you’re passionate about, such as food preservation, shopping on a budget, nutrition information, or other food-related topics.
Additionally, there are ways you can volunteer to help prepare and cook our Good Meals To Go. Visit our Volunteer page or contact us to learn more about volunteer opportunities at the Corner Store or other programs at Matthew 25.