Photo By: Faith Kindig
Imagine living in the harsh, arid conditions of a desert deep in the heart of the continent. Food and water are scarce. Every day is a battle for survival, especially without the fresh resources others enjoy around the world. You constantly wonder where your next meal will come from and what it will consist of. Now imagine that this desert is right in the center of a major city. You now have access to water, but fresh food is still scarce. How do you get the food you need? How will your community survive?
For Faith Kindig, a 2016 Penn State graduate, the answer was opening a fresh food mart directly in the middle of a food desert in downtown Erie. A food desert is an urban area in which it is difficult
“We’re here to service the needs of the local community,” said Kindig. “Our mission is to serve the people down here that live in the food desert, and a majority don’t drive.”
Kindig’s journey began before her time at Behrend when she found herself working for a local credit union as a member service representative and raising a child as a single parent. When Kindig was 23 years old she enrolled at Behrend and became a first-generation college student, albeit as a nontraditional student, as she was an adult.
While attending Behrend, Kindig majored in business management for a couple years before the project and supply chain management major was introduced, which Kindig jumped on, completing her degree in 2016 with a minor in management information systems and a certificate in systems applications and products (SAP) with enterprise resource planning (ERP).
During her time at Behrend, Kindig served as a grading assistant to Kathleen Noce, D.Ed., a management information systems professor at Behrend. The Innovation Commons in the Burke REDC building opened around Kindig’s senior year, which allowed Kindig to launch Erie Sproutz, an urban community garden with the goal of making a positive impact on the Erie community.
In Kindig’s senior year, she had the opportunity to work with David Causgrove, a retired Behrend lecturer in marketing, on a project that would become the Oasis Market and its subsequently correlated Oasis Project, which includes the market as well as Kindig’s other goals of using the market as a small business incubator.
“I am building the regional and local supply chain to funnel fresh fruit and vegetables from our resources around us into the inner city where people need it. It’s definitely helped me identify issues in our supply chain,” said Kindig.
While the Oasis Market and the Oasis Project as a whole aim to better the Erie community and alleviate the food deserts present throughout the county, Kindig hopes to transform her business into a franchise to provide aid to other communities who could use it.
Looking toward the future, Kindig is open to wherever the wind should take her, she said.
Kindig currently lives with her daughter and operates the Oasis Market with her fiancé in Erie.