Rockford grocery store’s grand opening celebrates greater access to fresh food August 1, 2015

A grand opening will be held Aug. 27 for an IFF-owned grocery store in Rockford that will be leased and operated by Save-A-Lot. Last month, through outreach efforts led by United Way of Rock River Valley, over 300 people interviewed for a projected 20 jobs at the store.

Construction began in October 2014 on the 15,000-square-foot building, which IFF identified, built, and financed. The full-service grocery store will carry fresh vegetables, fruits, and meats, in a neighborhood designated as a food desert with significant poverty levels.

The effort started in 2012, when IFF provided assistance in identifying opportunities for access to healthy food on Rockford’s west side. In 2014, IFF began conversations with the Rockford Housing Authority regarding its Choice Neighborhood and West Side Connections Plan. The city will participate with the Save-A-Lot, Rockford Housing Authority, and local groups to help with community engagement around fresh food and healthy eating habits. Neighborhood groups showing support include United Way and the West State Street Coalition.

The city contributed land for $1 and $300,000 toward the $3 million project. Other funding includes $2.7 million from IFF through the Illinois Fresh Food Fund, a program meant to increase access to fresh foods in underserved communities, with part of it — a $200,000, five-year bridge loan for development costs — to be repaid by the city of Rockford.