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Syracuse's Brady Market fills fresh food void, offers job training, mental health services

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO Public Media
Brady Market in Syracuse.

A new grocery store has opened at the former Nojaim Brothers Supermarket in Syracuse, which closed in 2017. Nojaim was a staple to the area; open for 98 years, across the street from a public housing complex and in an area with some of the highest concentrations of poverty. The new Brady Market provides access to fresh food, but also job training and healing services.

Darius Adjei is a security guard at the market. He grew up in the area, on the west side, and said it was exciting to bring a grocery store back.

“They have a lot of healthy foods that they’re trying to bring to the community, more healthy options compared to a lot of junk food or corner-store food,” Adjei said.

Kevin Frank, the director of the Brady Faith Center, which opened the market, said this is more than just a grocery store. They’ve been growing their programs over the past 10 years, to help serve poor communities. While access to healthy and affordable food is a huge need, Frank said it’s not the only need. There is a lot of trauma in some of these areas.

“Giving a job is great, but it’s not the only answer because when life knocks you down, you often lose a job,” Frank said. “You need to provide healing under the same roof.”

The trainees at Brady Market get some paid time to work on themselves. They have access to a case manager and mentor, therapy and fitness classes. The market also provides 18 months of job training in prepared foods and catering, a butcher certification program, front-end retail management and soft skills.

“Most businesses, you get good workers and you keep them as long as you can,” Frank said. “What we want to do is place, train and replace our workers into the wider community, into better jobs that are closer to their career paths.”

Danielle Allen is a peer leader running the prepared foods. The macaroni and cheese and collard greens are popular. She’s been with the Brady Faith Center all her life and said she hasn’t seen something like this, with the market and other services, all under one roof.

“They’re definitely trying to meet your needs all the way around, mentally, physically and emotionally,” Allen said. “So far, they have done it. I can tell you that for a fact.”

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.