Shop around the corner
Investors launch a nonprofit fresh food market on the westside to provide healthy food options for low-income families.
Where others saw two metal buildings, Clark Millspaugh saw providence.
He and 11 other private investors contributed funds to purchase, gut, fully remodel and launch a nonprofit fresh food market and office complex, called The Harvest, at 2232 S. Nogales Ave.
The building isn’t located in the best of neighborhoods. In fact, the westside has long operated as a separate entity in Tulsa, where residents rarely cross into other parts of town. And that is the very reason why the area was chosen.
Millspaugh is going on faith.
“We’ve been mentoring and working with families over here with our church,” says Millspaugh, a member of First United Methodist Church downtown, which is a Partner in Education to nearby Eugene Field Elementary School. “You can go any day of the week to Eugene Field and the halls are packed with people like you and me just living life with these kids.”
Approximately 99 percent of the community’s youth participate in the school’s free or reduced lunch program, and volunteers have noted that there is a high single-mother population at Eugene Field, Millspaugh says. What they need is healthy food; what they don’t have is a grocery store.
With the majority of families unable to afford transportation, buying food meant nearly a full day of juggling bus schedules. Eventually, most families resorted to buying food at a neighborhood convenience store or frequenting a nearby McDonalds.
“Our focus is on creating healthy diets,” Millspaugh says.
The Harvest, a two-building complex, houses a 1,600-square-foot nonprofit food market called The Westside Harvest, which will be run by volunteers in the community who will be paid with food credit. The foods stocked were chosen through a series of community meetings and shopping expeditions with neighborhood citizens.
“We want to know what they want,” Millspaugh says. “And we’re very interested in healthy food. There will be no soft drinks or candy sold and certainly no alcohol or tobacco products.”
Along with running his own oil and gas company, Summit Exploration, Millspaugh helps manage the grocery store and hopes, as more community members become involved, he can eventually hand over that responsibility.
The Harvest buildings, where Millspaugh has an office, also house four nonprofit organizations, Global Gardens, Abbas Family, Color Me True Workshop and an around-the-clock prayer room and dormitory for male missionaries in the 24/7 Transit discipleship program.
As for the new grocery store, Millspaugh says, “I’d love for the community to claim it as their own, both physically and spiritually.”