ALBANY, N.Y. (News10) — Albany’s first not-for-profit-run grocery store is now open. The much-anticipated South End Grocery offers healthy food options that have previously been out of reach for residents on the city’s south end for decades.

With today’s ribbon cutting, the market officially opened. Inside, customers can find an array of locally sourced fresh produce, prepared hot and cold meals, artisan items, sandwiches and more. What makes this market stand out is that it is within walking distance or a short bus ride for residents like Gregg King. King says he typically has to travel several miles to access any supermarkets. “There’s nothing within maybe 4 to 5 miles. Now we have a little grocery store of our own,” said King.

Patty Gordon also sees the market as an oasis in a long-standing “food desert” in the city of Albany. “And the fact that it’s now coming to fruition, and we get to walk in the space, and you know, insert our cards and make it happen. Like, it’s a big deal,” said Gordon.

The vision for the South End Grocery store has been a passionate goal for Travon Jackson for the past couple years. Jackson is the president of Blue Light Development Group. He spearheaded the South End Grocery Coalition, a partnership of more than 75 organizations and stakeholders committed to providing equitable access to healthy produce from local farms and groceries. “Anybody can be the recipient of good healthy quality food, and we are proving that here,” he said.

The not-for-profit model is based on the belief that when people eat healthy, they will be healthy. Albany Artisans, a company that specializes in historic restoration, reimagined the former McDonald’s that once stood on the location on Pearl Street, transforming it into the not-for-profit store. Rashida Tyler traveled from Kingston, New York. A one-hour drive to Albany to see it for herself. “Before it was a McDonald’s, which wasn’t really the healthiest food. The food in the store is healthy nutritious, “said Tyler.

Gibson added that there is sometimes a spirit of pessimism when something new emerges on the horizon. “But my hope is that, like this is just the beginning and the start of something new,” she said.

You can read more about the South End Market on social media.