We join the cheers and celebration about last week’s Oasis Fresh Market opening, which finally ends an unconscionable food desert.
The market at 1725 N. Peoria Ave. is stocked with fresh, affordable food with an array of options for healthier lifestyles. It provides the same types of amenities that large grocers in other sections of the city offer.
For years, community activists worked to attract a full-service grocer to the area to alleviate the food desert. Tulsa City Council District 1, where the store is located, had 93% of its residents living with limited access to food, compared to 19% of other Tulsans.
It was a glaring and embarrassing inequity in the city.
Having a full-service grocer is crucial for better health outcomes. Currently, there is an 11-year lower life expectancy in north Tulsa ZIP codes compared to those in the south. The new market is a step toward chipping away at that disparity.
The $5 million, 16,500-square-foot market is operated by the majority Black-owned Eco Alliance Group with A.J. Johnson as the owner of the store.
Funding was provided by the Tulsa Development Authority, the city of Tulsa through HUD’s Community Development Block Grant program, The George Kaiser Family Foundation, the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, the Zarrow Family Foundation and the Arvest Bank Foundation.
Critical to the effort were City Councilor Vanessa Hall-Harper and Rose Washington, head of the Tulsa Economic Development Corp. Hall-Harper made bringing a quality market to the district a priority, and Washington lent her business experience to push through obstacles.Oasis Fresh Market benefits the entire city. When parts of Tulsa lack resources and struggle in areas from economics to health, it drags down everyone.
This project shows what can be done when politics is set aside and leaders come together around a single mission.
The market is impressive. It has references to the Black Wall Street history and a welcoming design by KKT Architects with Nabholz as the construction company. Workers are happy; customers enthusiastic; and diverse food options beautifully on display.
Even more, the market is part of a surging business district full of entrepreneurs from the area. The market is not just a symbol of hope for the area but of what can be achieved.