Matthew 25 has received a grant from the John and Cindy Family Foundation for $300,000 to be paid out over three years to support its nonprofit grocery store. The mission of the Cultivate Hope Corner Store, located in the northwest neighborhood of Cedar Rapids, is to break down barriers to healthy eating.
“One thing we want to start doing through the Foundation is to fund solutions instead of just continuing to kick the can down the road,” said John Bloomhall of the John and Cindy Family Foundation. “There [are] so many challenges people are facing in their lives, and sometimes it’s hard to reconcile and solve these challenges. With the Cultivate Hope Corner Store, [affordable] food is a good solution to the challenge of hunger.”
Iowa recently passed the 35% obesity rate to become the sixth most obese state in the country, and core Cedar Rapids neighborhoods fare worse, with childhood obesity over the 50% mark among fifth graders in the center of the city. There are many reasons people don’t eat healthy food, from affordability, to lack of convenient or nearby stores, to not having the knowledge of what or how to cook healthy meals.
Cultivate Hope Corner Store aims to address these common barriers to healthy eating. It opened in April 2022 in an area previously classified as a food desert, meaning very little fresh produce and healthy food was available. The Corner Store provides fresh produce, meat, dairy, frozen and nonperishables, as well as healthy, prepared Good Meals To Go for $5 or less, daily lunch and soup specials, rotisserie chicken, and local vendor products. A Free Produce section is also stocked to allow shoppers to stretch their shopping budget and add fresh food to their meals.
The goal is for the Cultivate Hope Corner Store is to be a self-supporting social enterprise. It will take some time to hit the earned revenue targets as the store gets off the ground, so Matthew 25 requested this grant support as seed money to help subsidize operations expenses as the store grows, until it can eventually become self-sustaining.
While this store is located in a neighborhood in need of affordable groceries, it is a store for shoppers of all income levels.
“Everyone in Cedar Rapids can support local food access by doing just 10% of their weekly shopping at the Cultivate Hope Corner Store,” said Mark Elias, Senior Cultivate Hope Director. “We want and need everyone to shop here. The more folks that shop with us, the easier it is for us to keep fresh products, and more sales keeps our prices down for everyone. Plus, those who are able can donate at the register to support the Free Produce section.”
The Cultivate Hope Corner Store is located at 604 Ellis Blvd. NW in Cedar Rapids, and is open from 8 am-8 pm, Monday-Saturday.