Flint grocery store receives help from state to expand - WNEM TV 5

Flint grocery store receives help from state to expand

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(Source: WNEM) (Source: WNEM)

Access to fresh fruits and vegetables is scarce in some areas of Mid-Michigan, but a major expansion could help alleviate that problem in one community.

The city of Flint is designated as a "food desert" by the Department of Agriculture, which means grocery stores are hard to come by.

One supermarket is looking to invest some big money into expanding its services to residents.

Great Giant Supermarket, known for its variety of fresh-cut meats, is one of the few places to go for fresh food in the city plagued by the water crisis.

For a while customers were asking for something the owners could not provide.

"They always say we want a deli. Do you have sliced roast beef? Do you have this type of cheese? So I think now's the time to really, really grow it," said Devone Yelda, owner.

That's precisely what they plan to do with help from the state. Great Giant was approved for a $725,000 loan from mBank. The loan will allow the store to provide customers with what they've been asking for and create jobs.

"Add more fresh meat, a full service deli," Yelda said.

The supermarket currently employs about 40 people. They are looking to bring in an additional eight to 12 to help with the expansion.

"Great Giant's always been known for having the largest meats in town. Now we're going to have the largest variety anywhere in Flint," Yelda said.

The Michigan Strategic Fund offers a loan guarantee covering about 50 percent of the loan balance. The loan will pay for upgrades including a deli with full cases of fresh cooked foods, deli salads and fresh meats.

A task force by Flint Mayor Karen Weaver has been pushing for the expansion of grocery stores with fresh foods in Flint as a way to mitigate the effects of lead in the water.

The community hopes the announcement will be another step toward making that a reality.

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