New “Equitable Market” Looks to Fight Food Insecurity in Rowan County

CHINA GROVE, N.C. – It’s not your typical grocery store.

“Main Street Marketplace” just opened in China Grove.

Look closely and you’ll see items are priced on a sliding scale.

It’s part of an effort to help those struggling with food insecurity.

“Many of them can buy food but maybe not healthy food,” says executive director Hope Oliphant.

Oliphant says what you pay is determined by your income and household size.

“It is based on the honor system. And so you decide which tier your family fits in,” she says.

Market manager Brianna Caraccio says the lower prices helps encourage people to eat healthier.

“You are gonna go to wherever you can find the cheapest items and so right here we’re able to offer still affordable foods but it’s fresh,” Caraccio says.

The market held its grand opening last weekend and has seen steady business since.

Much of the fresh fruit, veggies, and meat is locally sourced.

And in the case of lettuce, it’s grown on site, inside an indoor garden.

“We have a tank full of water and nutrients and the water runs 24/7,” explains Hydroponic Manager Federico Hernandez.

360 lettuce are produced every two weeks, going from seed to fully grown in about 45 days.

Outside of the market, customer Samantha Smith says she loves the “equitable market” concept.

“Being able to save money and be able to have something other than processed food all the time,” Smith says.

Stats show more than 20,000 people in Rowan County live below the poverty line, and about 12 percent of households have food insecurities.

There’s hope this market could serve as a concept for similar markets locally and across the country.