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Rox residents can now buy healthy groceries at a discount

Second Daily Table location opens in Dudley Square on Washington St.

Karen Morales
Rox residents can now buy healthy groceries at a discount
Discounted fruit for sale at Daily Table grocery store in Roxbury.

After serving the Codman Square neighborhood in Dorchester for more than two years, the nonprofit grocery store Daily Table opened a second location this weekend in Roxbury’s Dudley Square.

Mayor Martin Walsh attends ribbon-cutting ceremony for Daily Table in Roxbury.

Jeanne Pinado, CEO of Madison Park Development Corp., speaks at the store’s ribbon-cutting.

At the ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday, Daily Table founder and former president of Trader Joe’s Doug Rauch said, “Daily Table is designed around the challenge of tackling food security and access to healthy and nutritious food in a dignified setting where people have a sense of agency by choosing and providing for their family.”

As part of the company’s mission of community outreach, the new store has hired around 15 workers — the majority of them from Roxbury, and ranging in ages 18 to 60. According to Rauch, Daily Table has 50 to 60 local employees in total, between the new location and the Dorchester store and central kitchen.

Andrew Kendall, executive director of the Henry P. Kendall Foundation, an organization that works collaboratively with grantees to create a more resilient and healthy food system in New England, spoke at the store opening about working with food organizations in Boston such as Boston Public Market, Commonwealth Kitchen and Daily Table.

“We are inspired by a very simple vision of New England producing 50 percent of its own food, whereas today, that number is 10 percent, closer to 5 percent,” said Kendall.

According to Kendall, Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath in New York in 2012 left a food shortage in the city, an example of “the fragility of the nation’s food system.”

In New England, he said, “Most of our food comes from thousands of miles away … we’re at the end of the supply chain, and therefore, susceptible to enormous disruption by weather, transport and regulations.”

He continued, “We shouldn’t be completely self-sufficient, but we should strengthen our own farm supply and energize our talent and resources that are right here in the state and region.”

Jeanne Pinado, CEO of Madison Park Development Corporation, which owns the space on 2201 Washington Street where the new Daily Table store is located, offered remarks at the ribbon-cutting.

She explained that MPDC often caught flak from the community for allowing the space to remain vacant for so long as they waited for the right tenant.

“Daily Table fits the type of retail we wanted to see here,” she said.

Adding vibrancy, engagement

Pinado said that considering Dudley Square’s history as the second largest shopping district in the city during the 1950s, MPDC wanted to bring back high quality and vibrant retail to the area.

“I think the 3,000 residents that Madison Park has on its properties in this area will really benefit from this store,” she said. “Together we hope to eliminate health disparities that exist in Roxbury.”

Carolyn Brunis Luc, director of advancement for Daily Table, was excited about the expansion of the store, which, she said, will be “another opportunity for the community to have food options that are healthy and affordable — and that they have a say in.”

Having worked at the Codman Square location, Brunis Luc said she learned that community outreach is a key component for success.

“We learned how to speak to the organizations that are local and who know the constituents and the demographics and form partnerships with them to guide our plan,” she said.

In addition to employment opportunities, Brunis Luc said there are also plenty of volunteer opportunities in the Roxbury store, as well as in the central kitchen in Codman Square where workers and volunteers sort, chop and package prepared food for shoppers. Store volunteers help stock shelves.

Healthy food at low prices

The manager for the Roxbury store, Marvin Clark, is originally from Dorchester and studied clinical nutrition at Framingham State University.

“Working here fits my personality and the goals that I have,” he said.

Clark said he hopes to continue helping customers find value in the groceries they shop for, especially if they are shopping with certain ailments in mind. “If they have hypertension, [I would show them] this is the food they want to eat,” he said.

According to Clark, the central kitchen at the Codman Square store will make prepared foods for on-the-go customers for both locations. Some prepared lunches are priced as low as $2.

“You could have lunch for a work-week for $10,” said Clark.

In an interview with Forbes in April, 2017, Rauch said of the Daily Table Dorchester store, “We’re on track to have revenue of $2.3 million in 2017. We’re losing about $50,000 a month. But we think we can cut that in half when we open a second store.” According to the interview, utilizing Dorchester’s central kitchen to serve both locations would help turn a greater profit because, “The magic lies in spreading the costs and overhead over several stores,” Rauch said.

Daily Table’s not-for-profit retail model snaps up excess food or rejected items (such as misshapen carrots) from other regional food retailers and farmers that would otherwise go to waste, at deeply discounted prices, allowing them to sell healthy products to consumers at a bargain price.