It all started with bingo.
In 2015, a quarter mile radius of downtown Chattanooga was declared the Innovation District. The Edney building, on the corner of Market and 11th Street was chosen as the hub of that district. With all of the excitement that was building in the emerging district, a lot of questions were raised about the building sitting right across the street: Patten Towers.
Patten Towers is an independently owned, government subsidized apartment building, with over 200 residents. To live in Patten Towers, residents must have a disability, either mental or physical, and be below a certain income level. Many residents live on less than $500 a month. All of the residents of Patten Towers are facing some hard issues that give them few options. We wondered, how can we harness the innovative spirit emerging in Chattanooga, and use it to address the problems of our city’s most vulnerable residents?
We started by simply getting to know each other. A group of employees from several businesses and organizations in the Innovation District started playing bingo with the residents of Patten Towers every other week. That led to teaching a class. Which led to hosting a health fair. Which led to the realization that access to food, particularly healthy and affordable food, was one of the biggest obstacles the residents were facing.
With support from the Lyndhurst foundation, Causeway, The Enterprise Center, the YMCA, and PK Management are partnering to open a small, healthy corner store on the ground floor of Patten Towers. The store will sell fresh produce, grocery staples, healthy grab-and-go breakfast and lunch, $1 coffee, and other items, all at the most affordable price possible.
So, where do I come in?
In order for this store to be successful, we will need shoppers who are residents of the building, and shoppers who live and work in the Innovation District. We are opening the store in October, for a 6-month pilot period. In that time we hope to make the store sustainable enough to be passed off to a local entrepreneur to run.
The money you give to this campaign is not a donation. We are simply pre-selling gift cards to the store that can be used once the store opens (plus some fun perks!). That's because we do not just need your initial support for this store; we need you to make Bingo's Market part of your every-day routine. Whether it's stopping in for your morning coffee, grabbing lunch on your break, or picking up groceries on your way home from work.. Bingo's will be the most affordable and convenient option around for all of us. AND by shopping there, you are contributing to the sustainability of a store that makes food accessible to downtown's poor. That's a win-win.