New business in Janesville aims to help food desert problem on city’s south side

JANESVILLE, Wis. — A new storefront in Janesville won’t solve a big issue on its own, but the owner hopes her new venture will help fill a void that’s been there for years.

Sustain Ability Bulk Shop will open on Janesville’s south side in early September. The business aims to sell products that are friendly to the environment and produce from local vendors.

Cassandra Pope decided to open the business after seeing that her area was fought to provide sustainable options.

“Our goal is to take sustainable items and give people access to them,” said Pope. “We were constantly having to go to the north side of town for everything.”

The Center Avenue business will provide these options in a part of town that’s in dire need of them.

According to Feeding America’s most recent data from 2020, 10% of adults and 17.4% of children under age 18 are food insecure. That is about 6,550 children in the county that experience a lack of access to enough food for an active, healthy life.

“This is a concern in both our urban and rural areas of the county, and has several related factors including reliable transportation,” said Jill Camber Davidson with the Rock County Public Health Department.

Two grocery stores on the city’s south side have closed in the last three to four years.

RELATED: Janesville grocery store to close; officials worried a food desert is growing even larger

“One of our goals is to work with county leaders and community members to increase healthy food options and improve the food environment in the county,” said Davidson.

Pope emphasizes that her store isn’t only meant to supply food, but she wants to be part of the change in Janesville to help promote an eco-friendly way of living.

“I’m hoping that this is the first of many that will start realizing that this is a very viable part of town with a very good community,” said Pope.