Denver Housing Authority has created an innovative way to provide food accessibility while catering to a community. Residents in Denver’s Lincoln Park neighborhood have a place to get groceries and prepared food within walking distance.
Osage Café and Mercado held a grand opening Tuesday to launch their expanded space that includes a grocery store. The market was packed with neighbors anxious to see the addition to their neighborhood.
Jen, a longtime resident, and her friends talked to CBS4 outside the market at 1015 Osage Street in Denver.
“Those with low income have a hard time getting out and about to the finer restaurants, but with this and the creations they create, we’re able to enjoy really top-notch food here. I’m really happy about this. I know many of the other community members are too,” said Jen.
Annie Hancock, Director of Resident and Community Services for the Denver Housing Authority, says DHA worked to open their doors and provide food access during the pandemic when people were out of work and didn’t have the services that were traditionally available.
“The biggest thing for us here is just keeping things affordable so that it’s really serving the entire neighborhood and meeting some of those basic necessities in terms of food access. Access to the cultural needs, the pricing needs, the fresh food needs,” said Hancock.
Hancock says the market isn’t here to make money.
“We’re here to provide a needed resource to the neighborhood. From early on and master planning of this of the district, one of the biggest issues that came to light was lack of food access and lack of employment opportunities,” said Hancock.
Thanks to a grant from Healthy Food for Denver Kids, they’re able to provide free meals and snacks for teens and kids 18 years old and younger. They can come into the store and pick out healthy snacks any day of the week at no cost.
“We have chicken salad wraps, yogurt, granola bars, fruit. We’re trying to provide a fruit, a grain, a dairy product, and protein to ensure that everyone has access to food whenever they may need it,” said Hancock.
Some teens are in the kitchen getting skills training through the Youth Employment Academy.
It’s a welcome addition that feeds this neighborhood in more ways than one.
“The kids here, they’re going to be accessing this for sure. They’ll all go and swim at the park and afterward come here. We’re really excited for all the benefits for the people here,” said Jen.
DHA says they’re open to finding new vendors to meet the needs of people in the neighborhood. It’s a very diverse community and they hope no one will have to go far to get what they’re looking for.