Building Healthy Communities

Grantee Name

Syracuse Urban Partnership

Funding Area

Building Healthy Communities

Publication Date

January 2022

Grant Amount

$160,000

Grant Date:

January 2020- December 2020

The Near Westside, Southside, and Downtown Syracuse neighborhoods have the highest number of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients in Syracuse and the least access to a full-service grocery store.

To create more accessible opportunities for healthy eating, Syracuse Urban Partnership (SYRUP) spearheaded the development and construction of the Salt City Market, located within walking distance of these communities. The Syracuse Cooperative Market Co-op, one of SYRUP’s first tenants, is the first downtown Syracuse grocery store in more than 40 years. The Salt City Market also contains a food hall space for entrepreneurs, which has created new jobs for traditionally low-income women and minorities, many of whom are from Syracuse’s diverse new American community. Additionally, the food hall offers a community teaching kitchen, which hosts nutrition classes. In 2020, NYHealth awarded SYRUP a grant to support marketing and technical assistance to the Co-op and the new food entrepreneurs.

Outcomes and Lessons Learned

  • Provided technical assistance to 10 food entrepreneur vendors initially selected for the Salt City Market. Fourteen more entrepreneurs also received technical assistance to build their plans, with the aim that by the end of 2022, there will be an additional 10 food entrepreneurs ready to launch their businesses at the food hall.
  • Advised the local food entrepreneurs on menu development, food costing, and food safety.
  • Offered marketing and design services to ensure that the market is a space that feels welcoming and inclusive to all people.
  • Surpassed job creation goal of 30 jobs for community members as a result of the success of the new food businesses beginning to operate.

The Salt City Market opened on January 29, 2021. Despite some challenges related to COVID-19, all food entrepreneurs were able to get the technical assistance they needed to open their own location within the Salt City Market. An online community kitchen space was also created to host regular virtual cooking classes that have included about 150 community members per class, until it is safe to gather for in-person events.

Co-op sales continue to increase week after week: the first week grossed $12,000, and sales are now at approximately $20,000 a week and on their way to a weekly sales goal of $30,000. While growth still needs to happen, steady sales are encouraging. The market also accepts SNAP and Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT), as well as offers the Double Up Food Bucks nutrition incentive program, which has increased access to groceries and healthy produce for residents in Syracuse.

After the opening of the market, SYRUP received a $1 million grant from Onondaga County to continue building out a program and pipeline to develop more successful entrepreneurs in the food and hospitality industry. This funding will allow Salt City Market to continue to expand beyond its original 10 food vendors, with a continued focus on underserved communities in the City of Syracuse.

The completion of the Salt City Market has garnered local and national attention, demonstrating that investing in challenging economic areas can be financially successful and address community needs. As a result of this project, SYRUP is being approached with various consulting opportunities related to this work.

Co-Funding and Additional Funds Leveraged: Onondaga County ($1,000,000), Allyn Family Foundation ($250,000), New York State Regional Economic Development Council ($1,000,000); and National Grid ($250,000).