Wednesday, Aug 15, 2018
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Officials celebrate investment in Family Food Center

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    Semolia Gaston, of Toledo, shops at Family Food Center in Toledo on Monday.

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    Customers walk into the Family Food Center in Toledo on Monday.

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    Anthony Buchanan, of Toledo, checks the meat selection at Family Food Center in Toledo on Monday.

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    Jerry Mance, of Toledo, is helped by cashiers Keisha Coley, left, and Secretha Bates at Family Food Center in Toledo on Monday.

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    Dairy and other assorted juices in an aisle at Family Food Center in Toledo on Monday.

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    Jerry Mance, of Toledo, is helped by cashier Secretha Bates at Family Food Center in Toledo on Monday.

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    Produce is displayed at Family Food Center in Toledo on Monday.

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    Semolia Gaston, of Toledo, shops at Family Food Center in Toledo on Monday.

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Just off Dorr Street and North Detroit Avenue, fresh meat and produce fill grocery store shelves.

Family Food Center, 1212 N. Detroit Ave., is a welcome addition providing quality food for the neighborhood. Area officials held a news conference Monday to celebrate the store and nearby continued economic development.

Owner Mark Zaitona purchased and improved the property in part with an $800,000 below-market loan from Local Initiatives Support Corporation. He invested another $400,000 himself.

Two months ago, Family Food Center completed a massive renovation. Updates included brand-new floor, registers, aisles, and shelves, Mr. Zaitona said.

“The neighborhood needed it,” Mr. Zaitona said.

Family Food Center employs about 18 people now, with a future goal of 25 to 30, Mr. Zaitona said.

Mr. Zaitona and his family led an agricultural business in Iraq before relocating about 20 years ago to the United States. He now owns grocery stores in Flint and Detroit. Commissioners said efforts to attract and embrace immigrants help the area regrow.

Commissioner Tina Skeldon Wozniak said this marks a significant commitment. The store brings fresh, nutritious food for everyone, she said.

“This is another investment and another opportunity for people to have healthy food. If you don't eat healthy, you run the risk of serious disease,” she said.

Commissioner Pete Gerken described it as a victory for the area with needed investment. The store is sizably different from its condition last year, Mr. Gerken said.

“We all know that our city has food deserts, and we're working to put more product in there,” Mr. Gerken said.

Mr. Gerken said the store is bright and clean, with an impressive fresh greens and butcher section.

“Every community has to have a place where they can go,” Mr. Gerken said.

The city of Toledo aided as well, helping secure federal grant funds for an environmental assessment and asbestos survey required for the property's redevelopment.

Contact Ryan Dunn at: rdunn@theblade.com, 419-724-6095, or on Twitter @RDunnBlade.

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