Letter to the editor – August 18, 2021

Dear editor,

I am writing on behalf of those in the eastern half of Allen County and western parts of Bourbon County who depend on the grocery store in Moran for access to healthy fruits and vegetables and staple items. Those who consider Moran their center for business and commerce, such as the rural folks who have brought their farm products to town and done business while there, are aging and need a close source of food for their convenience, health and safety.

A convenience store does not provide the nutritious items that are found in a full-service grocery. Neither does it provide customer services like taking orders over the phone for later delivery or for curbside pickup. Clerks carrying groceries to a vehicle and the ability of customers ordering grocery items are part of what makes The Marmaton Market an anchor institution in Moran.

Four years ago, a group of community members gathered to form a food co-op to own and operate the grocery store. Families bought memberships for $100 per household.  

At the time of purchasing the store, there were 100-plus members. An in-person capital campaign in 2020 pivoted to a letter-writing effort to increase membership. Efforts to increase the membership continue through various events. One quarter of the members of the Marmaton Market live outside of a 15-mile circle of Moran indicating an area of support for the Moran area community. The greater percentage of members do live within the area and need to be cheerleaders for the store. You own it!

What is unfortunate is that those who have the means to shop out of town do so, leaving those with limited options in a position to soon have no choice. Would it be too much to ask for residents who can shop elsewhere and have more choices to frequent the local store more often and more tangibly in order for the community to keep their local grocery store?

Caring for our neighbors’ situation should impact us and prompt us to do something that benefits us all and helps others greatly. Realizing that we can be the needed help, is something that has to happen soon or it may be too late.

Funding for The Marmaton Market has been obtained from the county, the Allen County E-Community and IFF through the Kansas Healthy Food Initiative. A couple of angel investors contributed early on and a few others have made smaller investments. If you are like-minded about investing in the local Marmaton Market, now would be a great time to do so. 

A food co-op is more than simply a grocery store. It is a manifestation and a reflection of the community in which it resides. Because the co-op’s roots are established one member at a time, it grows organically and becomes the collective result of what that community desires in a grocery store.

The Marmaton Market supports local producers, keeps dollars within the community, and seeks to be a community hub for many years to come. Co-ops are a steady, invested presence in their regions responding to crises big and small while providing measurable economic and social benefit.

The question remaining is this … What are you willing to do to help and enable The Marmaton Market? Because it comes down to this, the market is on hard times. 

Does the Moran area community really want a grocery store? And if so, what are you willing to do to make sure it stays open? Please bring your support and ideas to the store when you come to shop and enjoy the 911 Banner Rally at 6 p.m. Friday, Aug. 20 at the Marmaton Market.


Debbie Bearden,

Iola, Kan.