By Mike Templeton

Lower Price Hill will always have a special place in the heart of those involved with the Urban Appalachian Community Coalition. It remains one of the key urban Appalachian neighborhoods; in fact, UACC makes its home in the neighborhood, and we still maintain a strong presence. The ways Lower Price Hill has grown, struggled, and adapted to the changes that greater Cincinnati has experienced more generally is a reflection of the community spirit that still thrives in Lower Price Hill. UACC is proud to be a partner of Your Store of the Queen City and Meiser’s Fresh Grocery & Deli. This organization has been a powerful boost to the neighborhood, and their work has been tireless.

We periodically check in on Meiser’s Fresh Grocery & Deli, or as it is officially named: Your Store of the Queen City, because the success of Meiser’s is not measured in conventional metrics of business success.. Meiser’s is a living feature of the community in Lower Price Hill, and the many programs attached to their efforts, both large and small, measure their success on their positive impact on people’s lives. Beyond this, a short update on the things going on at Meiser’s is always fun. If you follow them on social media, you quickly learn that it is difficult to keep up with this bunch. People have been busy at Meiser’s Fresh Grocery & Deli, and this seemed like a good time to bring people an update

First, on the macro scale, Your Store of the Queen City continues to foster programs such as the Food Systems Acceleration Program. This program is based on the idea that the grocery store at the center of what they do has the capacity to help boost the success of other local businesses and makers. Further, the idea of empowering people within the local economy creates a healthy environment of diverse sources for the needs and wants of the surrounding communities. In essence, the Food Systems Acceleration Program is a way of bringing other small businesses and makers together to foster healthy economic growth from within the communities and that creates both resources and opportunities within these communities.

A couple of examples of people and groups that are working within the Food Acceleration Program include Tameca Ballard, who is a member of the Lower Price Hill Neighborhood Action Team, and one of the resident-leaders within the community who foster community health. Tameca Ballard runs the Incline District Community Market Place, a ready-to-eat retailer and catering service. Tessa’s Kitchen also cooperates and works with the Food Acceleration Program. This is a small endeavor run by Tessa Porter. A resident of Lower Price Hill, Tessa Porter works to create treats made from ingredients that are healthy for the body and sustain the health of the environment. Part of Tessa’s philosophy is that people establish deep relationships with each other through cooking and sharing meals, and this is what motivates her to share her culinary creations through her own entrepreneurial project. And cooking and sharing meals is exactly what is happening at Meiser’s Fresh Grocery & Deli.

A free community meal of an Appalachian classic of ham, potatoes, and green beans prepared by residents of the Lower Price Hill Cooking Club and provided by Meiser’s.

As Meiser’s Fresh Grocery & Deli has taken hold in the neighborhood, the neighborhood has taken hold of them. On Tuesday nights they make way for a free Community Meal. On Tuesday February 13, there was an Appalachian classic of ham, potatoes, and green beans prepared by residents of the Lower Price Hill Cooking Club. More recently, on the 20th, a member of the Lower Price Hill Cooking Club taught folks to prepare a simple but nutritious version of nachos.

The Lower Price Hill Cooking Club consists of residents of the neighborhood and Meiser’s staff whose business it is to develop healthy and affordable food. The Cooking Club works in support of the Community Meals, and it also offers cooking classes for children and for adults who are looking for ways to build healthier meals out of the things available at Meiser’s Grocery & Deli. Efforts like these are all of a piece with the organic ways Meiser’s is working within the neighborhood and within what may be termed the local food ecosystem of available food sources. Efforts like the Lower Price Hill Cooking Club and Community Meal are expressions of the belief that generations of revered neighborhood bakers, chefs, and cooking group members can offer creative explorations of fresh ingredients to help boost healthy people and healthy communities. Again, these things are just some of the most recent ways Meiser’s Grocery and Deli has stuck to their word by “bringing fresh food back to our community” and “promoting well-being through a celebration of recipes and local traditions.” The focus is, as they say, “hyper-local” in order to lift individuals at the neighborhood level.

As many historically urban Appalachian neighborhoods have seen population declines with the loss of industry, too many of them have become food deserts served only by dollar stores at best and in some cases, nothing at all. This is why it is such a profound success for Lower Price Hill that Your Store of the Queen City and Meiser’s Fresh Grocery & Deli have been able to serve the neighborhood in so many ways. Meiser’s Grocery obviously offers the neighborhood a real option to shop for groceries. They provide free options for people who need them, and they are fully equipped for things like SNAP and other food benefit programs. Your Store is behind a wide array of community programs that are building community around the idea of healthy food, healthy neighborhoods, and healthy people. And at the level of everyday life, people are cooking and teaching other to cook at Meiser’s Fresh Grocery & Deli, and they are sharing meals on Tuesday nights at Community Meal, a free meal available to anyone, served every Tuesday from 6-7. It is first come first served. You must be present to receive a plate. Children need to be accompanied by a responsible adult.

The Urban Appalachian Community Coalition welcomes the tremendous work of Your Store of the Queen City and Meiser’s Fresh Grocery & Deli as they continue to provide such a positive presence in the neighborhood.

Updates and information on Your Store of the Queen City and Meiser’s Fresh Grocery & Deli can be found at this link:

To keep up with Meiser’s Fresh Grocery & Deli, you can follow their Facebook at this link:

Mike Templeton is a writer, independent scholar, barista, cook, guitar player, and accidental jack-of-all-trades. He is the author of The Chief of Birds: A Memoir, available from Erratum Press, and Impossible to Believe, forthcoming from Iff Books. Check out his profile in UACC’s Cultural Directory. He lives in West Milton, Ohio with his wife who is a talented photographer. They spend their free time walking around the city and the country snapping photos. She looks up at the grandeur above, while Mike always seems to be staring at the ground.

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