Utah State’s new Fairpark Market hopes to improve Salt Lake City’s west side food desert

An international market will soon open at Utah State Fairpark to celebrate Salt Lake City’s most diverse neighborhoods.

The project will include food, goods, services and programming that organizers say aims to reflect the many cultures on the west side of the city. It stems from a 2019 feasibility study that recognized the area as a food desertwhere better access to healthy and affordable food is needed.

Lisia Satini, who lives in the Fairpark neighborhood and is a Salt Lake City resident Resident Food Equity Advisors, said there were plenty of fast food restaurants in her neighborhood. But if she wants to cook a dish with ingredients relevant to her Pacific Islander culture, she has to travel miles to buy them.

“I have to go to West Valley to even get food my culture eats,” Satini said.

The West Side of Salt Lake City needs more options, she said, and market operators need to ask residents exactly what they want.

“It takes those leaders working in collaboration with the community to make it work,” she said. “It’s important because then your community is seen. Their voices are heard.

Larry Mullenax, executive director of the Utah State Fair Corporation, said the market will focus on supporting local vendors to improve access to food.

“Our goal is to encourage people who may have difficulty in conventional grocery stores to visit Fairpark and take advantage of the resources that will be available to them, which [we] ultimately, hope will help solve the food desert,” Mullenax said.

The international market will initially run once a month, starting May 28, 2022. Mullenax said there are plans to expand the schedule in the future.

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