Ambassador Tony Hall thanks Sisters for food access help

Left, Colleen begins the presentation on the Gem City Market; right, from left, Colleen, Etana Jacobi, Lela Klein, Tony Hall and Kenya Baker; Michelle Bodine photos.

Food access promoters from the Gem City Market, Co-op Dayton and the Hall Hunger Initiative, including former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture Tony P. Hall, spoke to the Sisters at Salem Heights on September 19. The purpose of their visit was to update the Sisters about the planned Gem City Market (GCM) in Dayton. They also delivered their personal thanks for the Sisters’ financial contribution to the project.

GCM, the future worker- and member-owned full-service grocery store, will break ground in the next several months on lower Salem Avenue. The GCM is an exciting endeavor for Dayton in that many organizations, institutions and businesses are committed to addressing a critical problem in the community — food insufficiency — and are coming together to lend expertise and financial support to make the dream of a market in one of Dayton’s food deserts a reality.

Lela Klein gave an informative PowerPoint presentation about the market to about 30 Sisters. Klein is the executive director of Co-op Dayton (formerly the Greater Dayton Union Co-op Initiative), the umbrella organization of the GCM. The mission of Co-op Dayton is to address the food crisis and to incubate worker-owned businesses in the city. It was formed in 2015 and the Gem City Market is its first project.

Sister Pat Will said afterwards, “I really enjoyed the presentation. It’s not often that we (Sisters) get to hear directly from one of the organizations that we financially support.” Sister Angeline Hoffman said she was very touched and excited for what the possibilities for Dayton would be from this endeavor. She and Sister Pat bought Gem City Market T-shirts as a show of support.

A few days after the presentation, Sisters Ceil Taphorn, Jeanette Buehler and Pat Will attended a large block party to celebrate the Gem City Market at its future location on Salem Avenue. This location is a prime one, the presenters said, since it lies in one of the city’s food deserts; it is accessible via a public bus route; and it is near to downtown, where the growing professional resident population can provide a base of support for the market.

It was an honor to host Ambassador Hall, Dayton’s former 24-year representative to the U.S. Congress and a three-time nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize. He continues to be an advocate for the needs of people without access to food in his hometown of Dayton, and throughout the United States and around the world. Regarding Ambassador Hall’s visit to the Congregation, Sister Pat remarked, “It was a positive affirmation for our community about the outreach that we do.”

– Story by Colleen Kammer

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