Carver Market: "Guerrilla Grocer" in the News

by FCS Ministries on

By Jeff Delp We love to tell Atlantans about the Carver Market, and we are encouraged as local leaders and media outlets are sharing in our enthusiasm. Atlanta's 11Alive news recently came out to South Atlanta to see what we are doing and to spread the word.



We knew we were changing the game when we opened Carver Market in South Atlanta. For the first time in 50 years, people would be able to walk less than a mile to the store. However, since opening in April, we've learned that while folks don't mind walking to the store, carrying groceries home is less appealing.


So we're doing what every good business does - figuring out how to best serve our customers. To that end, we've added the bike delivery you see in the video above.


Thanks in part to a grant from the Atlanta Cycling Festival, our bike delivery service employs our young bike mechanics from the South Atlanta Bike Shop to carry goods to our customers' houses after shopping.


We're starting with a 1 mile radius from the store, including the communities of Peoplestown, Chosewood Park, South Atlanta, and Villages of Carver. As the program gains momentum, we'll seek to deliver to a greater area and may even offer online or phone ordering!


Thanks so much to 11Alive for sharing our story. For more information regarding our bike delivery service, inquire within the store.

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3 Keys to Transforming a Community

by FCS Ministries on

By Shawn Duncan

There are many misunderstandings about poverty. But there is one truth around which we at FCS seek to focus our efforts: Poverty is a community issue.

We work with one urban neighborhood at a time. We move in as neighbors and work within that fixed geographic community. Right now, we are at work in historic South Atlanta, a neighborhood of 520 homes just south of downtown.

But moving into a community is only the start. In our community work, we focus on the following three areas of impact:

#1. Economic Development

We have to think about jobs and about affordable access to the things that make neighborhoods thrive (check out this index for more on flourishing neighborhoods).

Economic Development means looking at the assets and barriers that exist and finding holistic ways to address them. It means partnering with business owners, entrepreneurs, and others with the know-how to create wealth and opportunity for others.

Bob Lupton asks a great question in his latest book Charity Detox, “If our goal is to alleviate poverty, does it not make sense to invite into the mission those who are gifted in wealth creation?”

#2 - Community Development

When people want to get involved in serving low-income neighbors, they often think solely about what is wrong. We encourage people to discover and start with what strengths are present in their community.

At FCS don’t spend all of our time thinking about what is broken in our neighborhood. We think about the the great capacities within our neighbors. We look for leaders and partner with them. We do a lot of listening. Much of the power needed to transform a community is already present within that community.

#3 - Mixed-income Housing

Affordable housing is vital to the stability of any neighborhood. FCS - though our housing ministry Charis Community Housing - creates access to quality, affordable housing. We are finding a way to make our community a mixed-income neighborhood.

Just as most neighborhoods became distressed when families with resources moved out, we invite resourced people to move in. Friendships develop between families with resource and families experiencing poverty so that together, we experience Shalom.

For more insight on our ministry philosophy, we would encourage you to read Charity Detox written by our Founder, Bob Lupton. Or, reach out to me, the Director of Training and Education, to learn more or schedule a training. You can reach me at shawn[at]fcsministries[dot]org.


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3 Common Misunderstandings About Poverty

by FCS Ministries on

By Shawn Duncan

FCS has been working in urban neighborhoods affected by poverty for decades. We've also welcomed service teams and connected with other groups doing similar work all around the country. In that time we have learned a lot about what works…and what doesn’t!

It's exciting to see individuals and organizations dream big about how a community can be revitalized and re-energized to thrive. An important place to start is a holistic understanding of poverty. Along the way, we've observed three common misunderstanding about poverty.

Misunderstanding #1: Defining Poverty as Material Lack

When evaluating a community, how you diagnose an issue will directly impact how to attempt to address it. Do we see "poverty" solely as a lack of stuff? Does limited money, clothes, or food make up our entire definition of poverty?

If we focus on material lack, we will spend our time, resources, and energy sourcing and distributing that stuff. Before we know it, our community development can become a "fill the empty bucket" approach.

Unfortunately, this strategy will never really alleviate poverty. It may make one day easier for someone experiencing poverty, but it will not impact the problem. In some instances, this approach actually digs the poverty hole deeper.

Misunderstanding #2: Envisioning Poverty as an Individual (or Family)

Yes, there are individuals and families experiencing poverty and affected by its presence. However, focusing on such personal realities can miss the bigger picture. We have to expand our understanding of poverty beyond the person or family that approaches us with a need.

FCS defines poverty as a systematic reality. We do our best to take into account issues of place, access, transportation, housing, etc beyond the simple "lack of stuff" paradigm. We have to know the difference between the manifestations of symptoms the original, systematic causes.

Misunderstanding #3: Addressing Poverty from One Angle Only

If the first two misunderstandings go unaddressed, it is extremely likely that the solution will approach only one aspect of the need. For example, a poor family that shares a need for housing will be helped with the provision of a place to live.

While this may occasionally be the "hand up" this family needed to escape poverty, that is not the norm. Typically, challenges with housing are intertwined with additional systematic issues that must be addressed, such as jobs, education, food, etc.

Even if this approach does help one person or family at a time, it is not an approach that can sustain real change in a poor community. For groups who seek to move the poverty needle in a community, a multidimensional strategy is a necessity.

These are 3 common misunderstandings about poverty we have observed over time. At FCS, we aim for neighborhood transformation, using methods that engage a community holistically.

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We Wish You a Merry... Pride for Parents!

by FCS Ministries on

It’s September and that means… Christmas! Right? For retailers across America and for us at FCS, we’re dreaming and scheming for Christmas 2015. You in? Our Annual Pride for Parents campaign is kicking off!  

New to our holiday program? Each year, we offer new toys at greatly reduced prices so that parents in our community receive the joy and delight of purchasing Christmas gifts for their kids. It's a different kind of model that replaced our Adopt-a-Family program many years ago.




We watched as suburban families delivered presents to the homes of needy families. And it wasn't long before we noticed the hurt in eyes of struggling parents as they watched others provide for their children. We knew there had to be a better way, and Pride for Parents was born.


Pride for Parents is our bustling, community Christmas store. We welcome neighbors as they get into the spirit of the season and find great deals to delight their family on Christmas. Can you feel a little bit of that spirit already?




We are seeking toy donations for all ages. Gifts that are always a big hit include: bikes and scooters, anything Frozen or Doc McStuffins, and Lego. We also have an Amazon wishlist to help you shop.


Finally, please contact us if you want to host a toy drive or volunteer at Pride for Parents. We are looking forward to another cheery season, offering families in our community dignity alongside affordable gifts. Thank you for partnering with us!


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Grapes and Plums: Juicy Street Talk

by FCS Ministries on

By Jeff Delp  

I rarely drive to work. I live four blocks from Carver Neighborhood Market, so I typically ride my bike.




And sometimes people talk to me.


Or rather, after 15 years in South Atlanta, I’m used to people shouting at me. Pedestrians, drivers, and other bikers often holler above the noisy streets anything from “hey” to more colorful language I won’t go into here.


But more recently, I had a surprising conversation with a man who was also a Carver Market customer.


While at the store, he had expressed some concern about our new method of packaging grapes. He was hesitant to purchase without being able to taste the produce.


So when I saw him walking down the sidewalk during my bike ride, I stopped and asked him how the grapes had been. He assured me they were just fine, and I rode off.


I was a half block away when he shouted, “Mr. Jeff… and those plums! They were AMAZING! Best plums I’ve ever had!”


I can honestly say that’s the first time I’ve had a conversation in the community about the quality of produce at a local store. Neighbors in South Atlanta now have something new to talk about as they pass in the streets: delicious plums! That’s a food oasis!


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Students Ready to Take on the World!

by katiedelp on

by Katie Delp  

Parents rejoice! Teenagers groan. And kids can’t sleep the night before. School is back in session in Atlanta!


And thanks to the generosity of our partners and donors, students in South Atlanta started the school year with chic backpacks loaded with school essentials. Over 100 families came into the Carver Neighborhood Market in the days leading up to school to purchase their school supplies.




Families were able to purchase backpacks at reduced cost, allowing parents the opportunity to provide for their children with dignity. As an added bonus, we even watched as older students bought backpacks with their own hard-earned money.


We couldn’t pull off our Back to School drive without our fantastic partners! Special thanks to our backpack providers: Christian Church Buckhead, For the Kid in Us, Crossroads Presbyterian Church, and All Souls Church.  




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Carver Neighborhood Market Launches Grocery Bike Delivery Service, August 3

by FCS Ministries on

New offering extends food access across Historic South Atlanta and surrounding neighborhoods  

ATLANTA – July 28, 2015 – The Carver Neighborhood Market, empowered by Focused Community Strategies (FCS), will begin its grocery bike delivery service on Monday, Aug. 3, 2015. This joint effort with the South Atlanta Bike Shop, also empowered by FCS, will continue to increase access to fresh, healthy and affordable food across Historic South Atlanta and surrounding neighborhoods.

Generously funded by the Atlanta Cycling Festival, the grocery bike delivery service for the Carver Neighborhood Market will have a fleet of bikers who deliver groceries within a one-mile radius of the market during store hours. In addition to serving Historic South Atlanta, the grocery bike delivery service extends to surrounding neighborhoods including Chosewood Park, High Point Estates, Lakewood Heights, Peoplestown and Villages of Carver.

“One of our learning lessons within the first few months is that our shoppers who walk to and from the market limit themselves to buying only what they’re able to comfortably carry,” said FCS Director of Economic Development and long-time neighborhood resident Jeff Delp. “By offering the home delivery service, what may have been purchased across three separate trips to the market can now be purchased in just one. Our goal has always been to provide convenient access to the market’s healthy food options, and the grocery bike delivery service is one more way we’re fulfilling that.”

Since the grand opening of the market on Saturday, May 16, 2015, the store has sold more than 25,000 goods and welcomed more than 6,000 shoppers to the store. This initiative is a stepping stone to a larger vision for the Carver Neighborhood Market – one where online ordering and delivery will be a reality.

The Carver Neighborhood Market is part of the South Atlanta Marketplace and located at 1297 Jonesboro Road, Atlanta, GA 30315. For more information, visit, or join the community on Facebook and Twitter.

About Focused Community Strategies

Focused Community Strategies (FCS) partners with underserved neighborhoods to provide innovative and holistic development that promotes flourishing communities where God’s shalom is present. FCS is a team of visionaries and social entrepreneurs, transforming distressed urban neighborhoods through Christian community development. For more than 30 years, FCS has demonstrated that the most transformative urban ministry is community-based. With an emphasis on neighborhood leadership and a commitment to mixed-income housing development, the FCS strategy yields both social and spiritual vitality as well as economic viability. For more information, visit:

Media Contact

Ashley Biondich

Office: 404-949-3777 x492

Cell: 404-444-7225

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Watch Our Story on PBS!

by FCS Ministries on

We recently had the honor to share our story on PBS. Religion & Ethics Newsweekly featured Bob Lupton and FCS in July 2015. It was a joy to work with their team and to share an inside peak into our community, businesses, and housing programs.  

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If you missed the live version, check out the video below!



If you'd like to hear more from Bob Lupton, check out his new book: Charity Detox.

To support the work of FCS, please consider a donation. You can give here.




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Our Biggest Surprises Running a Grocery Store

by FCS Ministries on

by Jeff Delp  

Launching Carver Neighborhood Market was an experiment filled with risk and anticipation. Food desserts have long plagued poor communities, and FCS was eager to find a solution. Could a local, community market survive? Could we provide affordable, healthy food to residents in South Atlanta?




Of course, it will be a while before I can really address those questions. We’ve been open a couple months now and are still learning so much every day. Here’s a few  surprises I’ve encountered along the way.


“You’re so  cheap!”


One of my biggest concerns launching the market was our price point.


I knew we could not compete with the big boys – Kroger, Wal-Mart, etc. - but I also knew we wouldn’t have to. Those retailers are too far away to be direct competition. Still, I was nervous, knowing our prices would be higher than the places where I normally shop.


At the same time, research and fifteen years of work in South Atlanta meant I knew we would be cheaper than the convenience stores around us. Still, I was nervous about the neighborhood’s reaction to our prices.


What surprised me was how excited our neighbors have been about our prices. Customers were thrilled: “Oh, you’re so cheap!” was heard many a times during the opening weeks. I wasn’t prepared for how excited our neighbors would be - it was a very pleasant surprise!


Produce is our top selling item.


When we started out, I knew a lot of residents wanted the store to offer produce. But I wasn’t convinced that, when it came time, customers would follow-through on their requests. After all, we all want to eat better, but many of us (including myself!) still make less-than-stellar choices around food.


But produce is our top selling category! Yes, you heard that right. A grocery store in a food desert sells more produce than anything else on its shelves!


Thanks to a great partnership with Georgia Tech, we have a wonderful summer intern who is categorizing all of our products in the store.  Thanks to his work, we’re continuing to gain better data on how products are performing in the store. But we’ve been pleasantly surprised by the volume of produce we’ve been able to sell.


Refrigeration is harder than we thought.


It hasn’t all been rosy in terms of surprises. While we’ve been encouraged by the things that have turned out better than we expected, refrigeration has been much harder than we anticipated.


It’s been a huge learning curve to figure out how to best care for our products that need to be kept cool. From installation difficulties to multiple  breakdowns to storage shortage, we’ve faced some challenges here.


Thankfully, we’ve been able to meet most of our in-store challenges thanks to the hard work of our staff and a great refrigeration service company. And we’re currently working on a plan for refrigeration in our back room to better store our produce. Remember how we said it was our top seller? Well, it’s pretty important to keep your top seller properly maintained for display and sale!


Who are our shoppers?


We knew we’d have plenty of shoppers at the Carver Market.  But we wondered what kind of shopper we’d have.


Our fourth surprise has been all our daily shoppers at the store. Residents are stopping in to buy something for dinner tonight or lunch tomorrow.


Many seniors in our community have a scheduled, weekly ride to the grocery store lined up with a family member. Now, we’re hearing how they are able to supplement that trip during the week when they previously would have gone without. Of course, we hope that they (and other neighbors) will eventually transition the majority of their shopping to Carver Neighborhood Market, but that takes time.


It’s been a whirlwind first few months as we launched the market and have gotten started providing affordable, healthy food options to the neighborhood. We have a lot more to learn as we keep going, but we’re grateful for the good surprises (and the challenges) that have already pushed us forward in this endeavor.



The Accidental Success of a Third Space

by FCS Ministries on

by Jeff Delp

Where do you spend your time when you’re not at work or home? For many of us, our responses would fall into a category that sociologists would call “third places.” These third spaces can include diners, bookstores, coffee shops, barber shops, and more.

According to urban sociologist Ray Oldenburg, third places typically share the following characteristics:

  • free or inexpensive
  • often food and drink are involved
  • close by and highly accessible
  • “regulars” - or folks who gather their frequently
  • welcoming and comfortable
  • a place for both new and old friends

When we opened Community Grounds Coffee Shop, we hoped it would be a place in the neighborhood where people could interact and gather. We hoped it would serve as a “third space” in our target community of Historic South Atlanta.

However, we could never have imagined all the unique ways that this space has been used by a neighborhood that has virtually no other third spaces available. Here are just a few examples of the accidental success of this gathering place.

#1 - High School Date Spot

Our proximity to the local high school has led to an uptick in after school coffee dates. Youth can come in, buy a smoothie, and flirt with each other in a safe and public community space.

#2 - Coffee with a Cop

Local police decided to host a community meeting at the coffee shop. It offers space that groups can come together to talk and build relationships in a location where everyone feels comfortable.

#3 - Neighborhood Civic League

The coffee shop has become a prime space for meetings, including the neighborhood association. It’s a familiar place for the community where everyone can come and participate in the life of the neighborhood.

#4 -  Political Engagement

The coffee shop is on the radar of local politicians and can serve as a perfect place to connect with voters. Our Board of Education Representative hosted “First Saturday Community Coffee” gatherings to open conversations with local residents.

Creating a space where neighbors can meet up with each other, work or get online, or simply drink a great cup of coffee has all been wonderful. But the real beauty of our coffee shop has been in the unexpected ways it has served the neighborhood by providing a clean, safe, and valuable third space for everyone to engage more deeply.


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The Carver Neighborhood Market Grand Opening!

by FCS Ministries on

The Grand Opening of the Carver Neighborhood Market was a smashing success! Neighborhood residents, partners, and friends gathered together to celebrate the transformation of South Atlanta into a food oasis. Everyone had a great time exploring the new store, tasting yummy samples, and participating in the ceremony. We're grateful to everyone who came out to support the launching of the market. It is truly an innovative solution to a national issue of food deserts, and we're excited to see the impact in our South Atlanta Community! Here are some of the amazing photos of the day from photographer Terence Rushin. (Note: Keep an eye out for the bicycle that blended smoothies - it was a big hit!)


Photo by Terence Rushin


Photo by Terence Rushin


Photo by Terence Rushin


Photo by Terence Rushin


Photo by Terence Rushin


Photo by Terence Rushin


Photo by Terence Rushin


Photo by Terence Rushin


Photo by Terence Rushin

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South Atlanta Community Showed Full Support for Carver Neighborhood Market Grand Opening, May 16

by FCS Ministries on

Latest venture by Focused Community Strategies celebrated access to fresh, healthy and affordable food  

ATLANTA – May 19, 2015 – Focused Community Strategies (FCS), the Atlanta-based nonprofit transforming underserved neighborhoods to flourishing communities, hosted a successful grand opening event for the Carver Neighborhood Market on Saturday, May 16, 2015. The Carver Neighborhood Market, empowered by FCS, welcomed more than 100 people who joined in the afternoon’s festivities.




The event marked the highest in-store traffic volume to date since the soft opening on April 22, 2015. Influencers with FCS, the Atlanta Community Food Bank, and the Atlanta Board of Education attended and shared remarks during the ribbon cutting ceremony. Long-standing community member Jacqueline Walker had the honor of joining the ceremony and cutting the ribbon.


“After more than a year of planning and preparation for the market’s grand opening, we received a tremendously positive response from the community – affirming that we are doing the right thing for the neighborhood,” said Jim Wehner, president of FCS. “We are shifting the conversation from ‘what isn’t’ to ‘what could be,’ and from what we’ve seen so far in South Atlanta, the possibilities are endless.”


After following the growing crisis around food deserts, FCS identified the opportunity to create the Carver Neighborhood Market and began planning in 2014. Through the grand opening of the market, FCS has fulfilled not only a need for the neighborhood, but also its mission at large – transforming Historic South Atlanta from a food desert to a food oasis.


The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines urban food deserts as low income communities where a third of the community lives more than a mile from a grocery store. In the Atlanta area, more than half a million people live in what the USDA would identify as food deserts, and in the South Atlanta community specifically, the closest national chain grocery to the Carver Neighborhood Market is approximately 3.5 miles away.


The Carver Neighborhood Market is part of the South Atlanta Marketplace and located at 1297 Jonesboro Road, Atlanta, GA 30315. For more information, visit, or join the community on Facebook and Twitter.


Click here to see photos from the Grand Opening.



About Focused Community Strategies


Focused Community Strategies (FCS) partners with underserved neighborhoods to provide innovative and holistic development that promotes flourishing communities where God’s shalom is present. FCS is a team of visionaries and social entrepreneurs, transforming distressed urban neighborhoods through Christian community development. For more than 30 years, FCS has demonstrated that the most transformative urban ministry is community-based. With an emphasis on neighborhood leadership and a commitment to mixed-income housing development, the FCS strategy yields both social and spiritual vitality as well as economic viability. For more information, visit:


Media Contacts


Ashley Biondich

Office: 404-949-3777 x492

Cell: 404-444-7225


Elyse Hammett, APR

Office: 404-949-3772

Cell: 404-376-5563

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What’s Unique About Carver Market?

by FCS Ministries on

By Jeff Delp

No matter where you’re from, no matter how you grew up, we can all agree on one thing: hoagies. Well, if not hoagies, pizza then? Or Whoopie Pies! More simply, there’s a universal need we all share, and that is food. 




But even our common need to eat can divide us when it comes to where we shop. Food preferences, geographic location, and affordability make a difference. 


When we began dreaming about Carver Neighborhood Market, we imagined a local store that could be a vibrant community space for our diverse neighborhood. We had to think intentionally about how to create a unique kind of market.

After all, it wasn’t too long ago that almost the entire City of Atlanta was a food desert. Grocery stores were few and far between, and very few Farmers Markets existed. If an Atlanta resident wanted decent produce, a trip out to DeKalb Farmer’s Market was in required pre-2007.

In the past 5-7 years, new supermarkets have opened and plenty of Farmers Markets have moved in to fill an obvious void in the city when it comes to access to food. But there are still gaps. Many chain grocery stores in our part of town (if there are any) have a lot of work to do when it comes to their produce departments. And our Farmer’s Markets – well, they are wonderful for many reasons – but affordability tends not to be one of them.

We wanted Carver Neighborhood Market to provide food – fresh, local, AND affordable. As our city changes, we wanted to take a unique, “middle ground” approach to food choices in our neighborhood that would bring residents together.

Our intent is to create a store where all people feel welcome and are able to find products that fit their food, diet, and budgetary needs and preferences. Therefore, we are starting with a mix of products that we think best represents this diversity. One our shelves, you’ll find almond milk and pizza rolls, hot Cheetos and fresh strawberries, sodas and hummus.

We know this will be a mission in process. We have room to grow, change, and adapt along the way, looking to our customers to help us figure out what will ultimately be best to sell in the market.

Neighborhoods might change, but our collective need for food does not. We hope that all the diverse residents in our area will benefit from access to better groceries here in South Atlanta.


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What A Grocery Store Means to My Neighborhood

by FCS Ministries on

By Sarah Quezada

Last night was one of those special, “glow-y” community moments. I walked into the new Carver Neighborhood Market and was immediately greeted by an enthusiastic team of current and new employees. Then, I took in shelves upon shelves of diverse food options. “Amazing!” was my first thought.

As I chatted with other neighbors, many of us shared a similar sentiment. I mean, we knew it would be a grocery store, but it’s like a GROCERY STORE! We were genuinely delighted by the availability of produce, staples, snacks, and household items. In our community, it was truly a unique sight to behold.

My husband and I relocated to South Atlanta in 2009. It’s a challenge, sometimes, to explain to friends outside our neighborhood how we can live in a major city and still feel relatively cut off from basic businesses and services. But we do.

Still, last night as I looked around the new grocery store so close to my house, I felt almost emotional. It surprised me. After nearly a decade living in urban neighborhoods, I’d almost forgotten what it was like to have beautiful, clean retail space nearby. I’d forgotten that feeling of convenience and community that these valuable “third spaces” provide.

I was also touched to see so many faces I didn’t recognize: people from outside our community who have invested their time, energy, and resources to open this store. There was a season when anything new happening in the neighborhood was dreamed, planned, and executed by the same residents and friends, staying up late at night to make something happen.

While those are fond memories, Carver Neighborhood Market is a powerful witness to how outside partnerships can support and catapult an idea into an innovative, and (hopefully) sustainable project in ways we couldn’t do alone.

Finally, I watched as my two year old dutifully lifted rolls of toilet paper off the shelves and handed them to me. “Good practice,” I told him. “Working here may very well be your first job one day!”

There’s a sense of hope with the opening of the market that just probably isn’t true everywhere a grocery store opens. Hope that young people can find local jobs to learn how to work hard and gain important experience. Hope that new businesses will follow the market’s lead and open in our community. Hope that as more good things happen, more neighbors will move in and the momentum will roll forward.

It was truly a memorable night in South Atlanta. I’m thrilled about the opening of Carver Market and grateful for the work that’s gone on behind-the-scenes at Focused Community Strategies (FCS) to make this dream a reality.

Sarah Quezada is a South Atlanta resident and part of our founding member’s crew at Carver Neighborhood Market.


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Grand Opening of Carver Neighborhood Market Transforms Food Desert to Food Oasis

by FCS Ministries on

Latest venture by FCS Urban Ministries targets change for South Atlanta community  

ATLANTA – April 8, 2015 – FCS Urban Ministries (FCS), the Atlanta-based nonprofit transforming underserved neighborhoods to flourishing communities, announces the grand opening of the Carver Neighborhood Market for Saturday, May 16, 2015. The Carver Neighborhood Market, a program of FCS, will provide access to fresh, healthy and affordable food for the South Atlanta community.



The soft opening of the Carver Neighborhood Market, scheduled for Wednesday, April 22, 2015, will welcome founding members for a first look at the completely renovated space, which will feature a full line of grocery products including fresh, locally-sourced produce. FCS Director of Economic Development Jeff Delp, a long-time neighborhood resident, has led the planning process for the future market and will oversee its day-to-day operations when it opens.


“Previously, the 2,000-square-foot space was home to a community thrift store, another initiative by FCS that served the South Atlanta neighborhood from September 2003 to January 2015,” said Delp. “Over time, we saw the community had less of a need for the thrift store but a growing need for access to fresh, healthy and affordable food. That’s when our plans for the market began in March 2014.”


“We have followed the growing crisis around food deserts and identified the opportunity for FCS to convert the thrift store into a food market that would thereby help to transform the neighborhood into a food oasis,” said Jim Wehner, president of FCS. “The Carver Neighborhood Market fulfills not only a need for the neighborhood, but also our mission at large, and that’s a win for everyone.”


The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines urban food deserts as low income communities where a third of the community lives more than a mile from a grocery store. In the Atlanta area, more than half a million people live in what the USDA would identify as food deserts, and in the South Atlanta community specifically, the closest national chain grocery to the Carver Neighborhood Market is approximately 3.5 miles away.


The Carver Neighborhood Market is part of the South Atlanta Marketplace and located at 1297 Jonesboro Road, Atlanta, GA 30315. For more information, visit, or join the community on Facebook and Twitter.



About FCS Urban Ministries


FCS Urban Ministries (FCS) partners with underserved neighborhoods to provide innovative and holistic development that promotes flourishing communities where God’s shalom is present. FCS is a team of visionaries and social entrepreneurs, transforming distressed urban neighborhoods through Christian community development. For more than 30 years, FCS has demonstrated that the most transformative urban ministry is community-based. With an emphasis on neighborhood leadership and a commitment to mixed-income housing development, the FCS strategy yields both social and spiritual vitality as well as economic viability. For more information, visit:


Media Contacts

Ashley Biondich

Office: 404-949-3777 x492

Cell: 404-444-7225


Elyse Hammett, APR

Office: 404-949-3772

Cell: 404-376-5563


The Carver Market was featured in Creative Loafing!



3 Steps Closer to the Opening of Carver Market

by FCS Ministries on

By Jeff Delp  

It’s been a busy few weeks at the future Carver Neighborhood Market. The remodeling is in full swing, and we’re excited to share with you the changes that have been happening.


It won’t be much longer before we’ll be welcoming local shoppers into the store. In fact, we have tentatively planned the launch of the market for the week of April 20.


So what are some of the changes happening so far?


Hidden Gems


First, we started uncovering some of the buildings features that had been previously hidden. We demoed some drywall, and found exposed brick that we are cleaning and prepping to be the new walls of the store.




We also removed the ceiling tiles and created a more open, fresh feel for the store. Shout out to Christian Leadership Concepts Bible Study for helping us with this physical work to get everything ready!




Signs Everywhere


Getting signage in place has made the dream of the market come to life. It’s really happening! Olive Ryan, a neighborhood artist, painted the Carver Market logo on the outside of the building.


We also removed the now outdated South Atlanta Marketplace sign on top of the building and replaced it with signs for the new store. Now people passing by can start to see that they can soon stop for groceries!




Getting the Word Out


Neighbors are getting excited about the market. We hosted a campaign on social media to create a little buzz and spread the word about Carver Market. As our local supporters and members received our canvas tote bags, we asked them to post a pic on social media with their bag and their enthusiasm. Lots of kids are excited about the opening of the market!




See all the photos and updates on the store by following us on Facebook and Twitter.

As spring rolls into South Atlanta, the delight about the rebirth of our space is building. Everyone is eager to see the renovations complete and the produce stocked. It won’t be long now!

Join us as a market member to support and help us open our doors! Sign up here!


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Partner Highlight: Atlanta Harvest

by FCS Ministries on

We believe strongly in collaboration with others implementing innovative solutions. One creative partner in our Historic South Atlanta community is Atlanta Harvest. They have started a revolutionary urban farm in an abandoned lot in the neighborhood. 


We are excited to build a “Food Oasis” in our community, and Atlanta Harvest is a vital partner in this work. Not only are they seeking to provide local jobs, but they are growing quality produce right in the neighborhood! 

Check out their work in this short video:

One way we’ve already been able to work together (as mentioned in the video) is they provide lettuce for sandwiches at Community Grounds. Going forward, they will be our greens supplier for Carver Market


We’re excited about the great work happening in South Atlanta and the opportunities for more jobs and better food.  


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Meet Our Coffee Shop Staff

by FCS Ministries on

Since Community Grounds began, we've had some fabulous staff work behind our counter. We thought today on the blog, we'd introduce you to our current team. In the area? Stop by the shop and say hello!  


Has worked at Community Grounds: since July 2014

School: Western Governor's University - Business Management

Favorite drink? Tirimasu Rocky

What do you enjoy most working here? How much technical precision and artistry it takes to be an excellent barista. And that look on someone's face when you nail it!

Favorites outside of work? Performing with the Awalim Dance Company, costume & jewelry design, and reading a really excellent book.



Has worked at Community Grounds: 1 year

School: Georgia Perimeter College

Favorite drink? A caramel mocha (aka The Turtle!)

What do you enjoy most working here? Talking to customers and getting to know them on a personal level, which can be very entertaining!

Favorites outside of work? Fitness, reading, and spending time with friends



Has worked at Community Grounds: 3 years

School: Georgia State University - Film

Favorite drink? A caramel latte frappe

What do you enjoy most working here? The customers!

Favorites outside of work? Film, friends, and the movies



Has worked at Community Grounds: since September 2014

School: Georgia State University

Favorite drink? An Americano

What do you enjoy most working here? Getting to interact with customers and seeing familiar faces

Favorites outside of work? Drawing, creating art, and camping



Has worked at Community Grounds: since August 2014

School: West Lake High School, starting Georgia State University in the fall

Favorite drink? A breve Rocky

What do you enjoy most working here? Meeting new customers

Favorites outside of work? Working out, dancing, and skating


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How Do We Know If Our Work is Working? Measuring Flourishing Neighborhoods

by FCS Ministries on

There are a couple questions we hear all the time in community-based work like ours. How do you know if your efforts are working? How do you know when you are finished in a community? How do you define success?  

We decided it was time to address these questions head-on. FCS needed a way to measure the effectiveness of our work in meaningful ways.


Flourishing Neighborhoods

We have partnered with the South Atlanta Civic League (SACL) in our target neighborhood of Historic South Atlanta. Together, we are working towards a thriving and flourishing community.


We breakdown the components of a flourishing neighborhood as follows:

• Sense of Place

• Effective, Credible Community Leadership

• Neighborhood-focused Faith

• Meaningful Work and Opportunities

• Mixed-Income Housing Opportunities

• Sustainable Built Enviornment (parks and green spaces, road and walk ways)

• Youth, Families, and Education

• Neighborhood Connectivity


To capture useful data about need and areas for growth, FCS has been conducting surveys among neighborhood residents. Our two incredible interns from Georgia Tech, Brandon and Luke, have been interviewing community members covering the range of topics listed above.


Measuring Community Development Work

Follow-up surveys will be conducted annually to measure the impact of FCS and the SACL’s efforts and development. We are excited for the direction and measurement this survey process will offer as we continue to refine our models and practices for outstanding community development.



Carver Neighborhood Market: A Food Oasis

by FCS Ministries on

The phrase “food desert” has become more common in recent years. The US Department of Agriculture defines urban food deserts as low income communities where a third of the community lives more than a mile from a grocery store. A mile may not sound far, but limited transportation makes healthy food inaccessible to many urban residents.

In fact, in the Atlanta area, more than half a million people live in what the USDA would identify as food deserts. As you would expect, diminished access to healthy food choices can lead to poor nutrition, obesity, and diet-related health concerns.

Food is a problem that inspires solutions, and FCS Community Economic Development has been working to introduce a “food oasis” to our South Atlanta neighborhood. We believe there is a sustainable business solution to the issue of food in our community.

As 2015 dawns, we are already preparing for the launch of the grocery store. A new thrift store is opening up in our community, allowing us to transform our South Atlanta Marketplace thrift store space into the new Carver Neighborhood Market. Sales have been going on for weeks as neighbors take advantage of the transition to get some fantastic deals!

Plans are moving forward, and you can follow the developments on the market’s Facebook and Twitter pages. FCS’s social media will provide updates as well, and you can follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Interested in helping us launch this innovative project? Here are a few ways you can help:

  • Volunteer - We’ve got several small group projects available for February. For details, contact Jeff (jeff at fcsministries dot org).
  • Meet a need - We are looking for partners who can help with our website, connect us to local food growers and/or suppliers, or donate materials for flooring and ceiling. If you or someone you know can help, please contact Jeff as well.
  • Donate - Supporters inside and outside of the community have raised close to what we need to launch the store. Please consider a gift to push this project forward. You can give here.

It’s exciting work, and neighborhood residents are eager to see the Carver Neighborhood Market become a reality. We hope that in the near future, our community will no longer be labeled a food desert. There is so much hope around creating a neighborhood space that benefits the health and community-building life of our neighborhood.