Innovation District Organizations Collaborate To Address Food Access By Opening Market In Patten Towers

Monday, December 11, 2017

Causeway, The Enterprise Center, the YMCA of Metropolitan Chattanooga, and PK Management have partnered together to open a small market on the ground floor of Patten Towers. The goal of the store is to provide healthy, affordable, and accessible food to the residents of Patten Towers, as well as those who live or work in the Innovation District.  The ribbon cutting ceremony is set for Thursday at 2 p.m. at Bingo’s Market located at the Patten Towers.   

The store, called Bingo’s Market, opened in October of this year as a six-month pilot project. The market will sell fresh produce, grocery staples, household items, $1 coffee from Mad Priest Coffee Roasters, and grab-and-go breakfast and lunch options from Vibrant Meals, all at the most affordable prices possible. 

In 2015, a section of downtown Chattanooga was declared the Innovation District, with The Edney Building chosen as the anchor of the district. Right across the street from the Edney Building sits Patten Towers, an independently owned, government subsidized apartment building. In order to live in Patten Towers, residents must be 62 years old and older, or have a disability, either mental or physical, and be below a certain income level. In a survey done in 2015, many residents reported an income of less than $500 a month.  

“Innovation is all about solving problems,” said Abby Garrison, Causeway’s executive director. 
“There was an obvious opportunity in front of us to harness the emerging spirit of innovation, and use it to address a big problem facing some of the most vulnerable members of our community.”  

In Summer 2015, Causeway and The Company Lab received a grant from the Lyndhurst Foundation to support their work connecting Patten Towers and the Innovation District. Through the summer and fall, employees of those organizations and The Enterprise Center started building relationships with the residents of Patten Towers. They played Bingo with the residents every other week, hosted a weekly business class, sponsored a health fair with over 50 vendors, and facilitated several focus groups to better understand the residents’ needs.  

In one survey, 51 percent of the residents said that access to food was the biggest issue they were facing. For the last six years, the owners of Patten Tower and the YMCA’s Mobile Market have been addressing this issue.  However, the Mobile Market was only able to be on-site at Patten Towers once a week for a few hours. Bill Rush, director at the YMCA of Metropolitan Chattanooga, says the YMCA has been piloting healthy corner stores in three other low income neighborhoods to provide more consistent access to healthy food. Bingo’s Market will follow a similar model, but with more extensive healthy and affordable options. 

The store is on the ground floor of Patten Towers in a room that has an external entrance facing Georgia Avenue, across from the Pickle Barrel. The building’s management company, PK Management, is allowing the group to use the space rent-free.  

“We are thrilled to be entering into a partnership that is addressing the needs of our residents, ensuring that they are treated as valued members of the Chattanooga community,” said Joyce Walker, vice president of Community Development for PK Management. “We are committed to helping this store and our residents thrive.”  

The store is open for a six-month pilot period. In that time, the organizers are hoping to make it financially sustainable so that it can be passed off to a local entrepreneur to run as a viable business.  

“We really hope that people who work in the Innovation District will see this as an opportunity to play an active and positive role in this neighborhood, whether they work at a startup in The Edney Building, or at larger companies like TVA, EPB or Unum,” said Ann Coulter, Enterprise Center. “This is a way for us all to invest in the place that we live.”




MainStreet Cruise-In Is June 23

The Mainstreet Cruise-In rolls into downtown on Saturday, June 23 from 1 p.m.-6 p.m. and fills the streets surrounding the Courthouse Square.  Car enthusiasts show off their vehicles as all types of cars are displayed from classics to special interest and current models.   Downtown streets will be filled with vehicles and spectators are invited to view the cars, ... (click for more)

The Pickup Trucks And Car Seats Puzzle

Pickup trucks were originally designed for work purposes but today they are often used for family transportation. According to Safe Ride News, nearly one in five vehicles sold in the U.S. is a pickup truck. Safe Journey officials said it can sometimes be very challenging to install a car seat in a pickup truck as they are not all the same. There are regular cabs, crew cabs, extended ... (click for more)

Voters May Decide In November On Whether To Eliminate City Court; Paving Fund Also Considered

Chattanooga voters in November may get to vote on whether City Court should be abolished. City Council members indicated during budget talks on Tuesday that may be an upcoming referendum question. Councilman Jerry Mitchell said he, for one, "would vote to eliminate it." However, he said the court would apparently run through 2021 when the eight-year terms of Judges Sherry ... (click for more)

Alexander Calls For Immediate End To Separation Of Families At Border

United States Senator Lamar Alexander Tuesday released the following statement on the separation of children from their parents at the border:  “Illegal immigration is against the law but new enforcement policies have resulted in hundreds of children being separated from their parents. The administration should end that new policy immediately while Congress works with the ... (click for more)

Never Replacing Claude Ramsey But Following His Example

When Claude made his decision not to seek reelection as the 26th District state representative I made my intention known to seek the office following him.  Immediately opponents from both parties began to qualify for that opportunity.  With Bill Bennett as my campaign manager and many of Claude’s supporters going door to door into the community, as Claude had done in his ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Participation Trophies

You may remember several years back when James Harrison, a linebacker for the Steelers at the time, came home to discover his two sons, who were then ages 8 and 6, had received “participation trophies” on a sports team. Harrison, who earned his way into the NFL (he was not drafted out of Kent State yet played in five Pro Bowls), promptly loaded his sons and the bogus trophies in ... (click for more)