The Springfield Foundation has set up a community fund in the wake of Kroger’s announcement to close its store on South Limestone Street.
The store will close on March 4 and create a far-reaching food desert on the south end of the city that is projected to affect about 22,000 people.
“While we don’t have immediate or long-term solutions now, we do know that they’re going to cost money,” said Springfield Foundation Director of Development & Marketing Victoria Richards.
KROGER CLOSING: Health issues, food deserts discussed
Richards said within the last week, the foundation’s board of directors chose to move forward with the initiative to create The Community Food Crisis Action Fund.
The fund went live to the public on Friday, and The Springfield Foundation jump-started it by donating $25,000.
“We saw a lot of community support, a lot of people saying they wanted to be a part of a solution or find a way to help,” Richards said. “We wanted to give them a resource.”
Specifically how the money will be used will be determined at a later date, but it would go towards helping people in the weeks or years to come following the closure — such as transportation or infrastructure solutions.
The community fund announcement comes on the heels of a closed-door meeting between Springfield and Clark County leaders and Kroger on Thursday.
Mayor Warren Copeland said prior to the meeting that the city was in the process of attempting to convince Kroger to “walk away from the building so it is available for someone else to provide food to the area.”
Specifics of that meeting are expected to be shared at community forum at 7 p.m. Tuesday at The Dome (the former South High School).
Anyone interested in attending should come in through the Career ConnectED side of the building, located at 700 S. Limestone Street.
People who may need a ride to the meeting can text ‘RIDE2DOME’ to 41411 or call Think Tank Inc. directly at 937-322-4970.
Kroger’s news to close the store as part of the ‘Restock Kroger’ plan came on Jan. 31 and blindsided many people in the Springfield community.
The company has previously said they will utilize more of its capital to fund technology and infrastructure upgrades.
The south side neighborhood lost two other grocery stores — IGA and Big Bear Supermarket — over the last 10 years, and without the Kroger, the nearest full-service grocery would be close to four miles away, which presents a challenge to many people who regularly walk to the store.
City leaders said addressing transportation needs following the closure will be a “key focus.”
Anyone interested in donating to the community fund can mail a check to The Springfield Foundation at 333 N. Limestone or go the foundation’s website and designate the money to go towards food insecurity or the community relief fund.
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