Madison Market moves to new J.B. Young Opportunity Center

Mission | September 18, 2017

The walls are bright, the rooms are spacious. The food at the Madison Market is always delicious – fresh fruits and vegetables, eggs and milk, meat and bread, along with canned goods and yummy treats, too.

This summer, the market, which serves the families of Madison Elementary School, completed its move from the basement cafeteria at the school. It’s now one part of the remodeled and remade J.B. Young Opportunity Center – just one block west of Madison and a couple of blocks south of St. Paul.

“This center will be a beacon for the neighborhood,” said Dana Welser, the neighborhood school partnership coordinator at St. Paul.

The Madison Market is a partnership with the school district and River Bend Foodbank. The school district refers families, the food bank (and the St. Paul Community Garden) provides the food, and St. Paul provides the volunteers and operational management of the market.

Twice a month, Madison families come and shop for food. Approximately 50-60 families take part.

With the opening of the J.B. Opportunity Center, a second food pantry will open, too. Staffed with volunteers from the Davenport Education Association, it will share space with Madison Market but have different hours than Madison Market. That pantry will be open to the general public on Tuesday evenings and Saturday mornings.

Why the second food pantry?

In the 22 counties that River Bend Foodbank serves, 119,570 people miss 21.4 million meals each year. River Bend Foodbank has set a three-year goal to close the 3,950,400 meal gap in Scott County by the end of 2018.

Why the J.B. Opportunity Center?

When the school district chose to close J.B. Young K-8 at the end of the 2015-2016 school year, it chose to move the district’s administrative offices to the building and to create a community center. The Madison Market is just one of the partners moving in. Others include the Boys and Girls Club, Safer Foundation Youth Empowerment Program, Children’s Village preschool, and Daughters of Mokanna.

The new, bright, and spacious location for the Madison Market also has a few other really wonderful perks: air-conditioning, no stairs, a walk-in freezer, and a comfortable waiting room where social service agencies can set up informational tables.

As Kit Whan, a lead volunteer, gave a tour recently, she noted that every family at Madison is eligible to come and shop at the market. She is one of the devoted crew who leads the effort twice a month – including trips to River Bend to pick out food to put a little joy in others’ lives.

Her favorite part of being part of the pantry, though, is the people.

“I just really love getting to know the families,” she said.

Madison Market volunteers

Can you stock shelves, navigate a shopping cart like a champ, or just be a friendly face? The Madison Market needs you on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month. Unloading is from 8-10 a.m., the pantry is open from 1-4 p.m. at the J.B. Young Opportunity Center, 1702 N. Main Street (just south of St. Paul). Help fight hunger in our community. Contact: Dana Welser,

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