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Matthew 25 holds Healthy Neighborhoods open house

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KWWL) -- It's called Healthy Neighborhoods and it was Matthew 25's event to unveil its next step in its "Healthy Timecheck" initiative to bring back the neighborhood of the same name.

The group hosted about 200 people from the community, including donors and community partners, which includes the City of Cedar Rapids, and represented by Mayor Hart.

Matthew 25 is a non-profit group created in 2008 to help bring back the neighborhood after the Great Flood.

Since then, they've grown to build an urban farm and a food pantry to serve the community.

Tonight's event showcased its two latest projects.

One is the opening of a new, healthy alternative neighborhood grocery store -- reminiscent of an older time, where neighbors will not only shop but also gather and build community relationships.

Matthew 25 has plans to renovate an old corner grocery store and revive the gathering around at the local grocery shopping.

Jana Bodensteiner is the director of development and communications for Matthew 25.

"We are going to have a little table and chair area in one part of it," Bodensteiner said, "We're going to have events and healthy food education events, community building events, that sort of thing there."

The group's second project is to build new houses and buy, renovate and sell houses to lower income families.

To do that, Matthew 25 needs to raise one million dollars. It has already reached 65 percent of that goal.

"We're trying to make them very future focused and planet-friendly with sustainable building practices, but also make them very people -friendly by moving the kitchen -- instead of being in the back, to the front, of the house, having front porches to kind of re-engage that front yard and get people interacting with their neighbors," Bodensteiner said.

Matthew 25 holds a plant sale in the spring to help residents grow their own food. Their summer farmer's market also provides healthy food produce for the community.

"This neighborhood is a USDA food desert," Bodensteiner said, "So that means there isn't a lot of food options for people who live here. There's a few convenient stores and a few bars but no grocery stores within walking distance for people so [we're] giving them some healthy options for food."

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Michele White

Cedar Rapids Multimedia Journalist

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