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New Utah State Fairpark market hopes to improve Salt Lake City’s west side food desert

The Utah State Fairpark at 155 1000 W in Salt Lake City.
Courtesy Pablo Zarate
The Utah State Fairpark at 155 1000 W in Salt Lake City.

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

The project will have food, goods, services and programming that organizers say are intended to reflect the many cultures of the city’s west side. It stems from a 2019 feasibility study that recognized the area as a food desert, where there’s a need for better access to healthy and affordable food.

Lisia Satini, who lives in the Fairpark neighborhood and is one of Salt Lake City’s resident food equity advisors, said there are a lot 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 away to buy them.

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

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

“It needs to be these 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, the executive director of the Utah State Fair Corporation, said the market will emphasize supporting local vendors to improve access to food.

“Our goal is to encourage those individuals that maybe struggle in conventional grocery stores to visit the Fairpark and take advantage of the resources that will be offered to them, which [we] ultimately hope will help resolve the food desert,” Mullenax said.

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

Emily Means is a government and politics reporter at KUER.
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