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City of Tulsa to Receive 2022 Audrey Nelson Award for Role in Bringing Oasis Fresh Market Project to North Tulsa

This article was archived on 2/26/2022

The City of Tulsa will receive the 2022 Audrey Nelson Award from the National Community Development Association (NCDA) for its role in bringing the Oasis Fresh Market project in North Tulsa. 

The City will be recognized at the NCDA’s winter conference on February 4.  

The Oasis Fresh Market, which opened in May 2021 at 1725 North Peoria Ave., aims to eliminate food deserts in North Tulsa. The 16,500 square foot grocery store offers affordable, nutritious and fresh food, such as fruits and vegetables, as well as a demonstration kitchen that educates customers how to cook healthy meals.  

“We are honored to receive the 2022 Audrey Nelson Award for a project that was years in the making to provide residents equitable access to healthy food options,” Mayor G.T. Bynum said. “Oasis Fresh Market is a citywide effort to meet the needs of our neighbors and allow more opportunities for economic development in the area  I’d like to congratulate our City team for this big project to continue our goal of seeing food deserts eliminated in North Tulsa.” 

This local project was a collaborative funding effort between public and private entities, including the City of Tulsa, the Tulsa Economic Development Corporation (TEDC), Tulsa Development Authority (TDA), and philanthropic organizations, such as the George Kaiser Family Foundation, Charles & Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation and Zarrow Family Foundation. TEDC helped recruit existing grocery operators to North Tulsa by encouraging the start-up of a new, mission-driven business enterprise designed to serve the unique needs of food deserts. 

This angle attracted private-sector donors who understood that a food desert grocer would need an unconventional approach to succeed. The TEDC model allows the store to occupy a spacious building with heavily subsidized rates because of the various components of the capital stack.  

The City’s $1.5 million Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program investment was the glue that gave the project momentum, producing other investments from TDA, local foundations, and TEDC, with a total cost of $6.1 million. 

The Oasis Fresh Market also pays tribute to Black Tulsa grocers who lost their businesses during the 1921 Race Massacre that destroyed the historic Greenwood District. A large mural reflects a picture of one historic store in its heyday. As Tulsa commemorated the centennial of the Race Massacre mid-2021 as a community, North Tulsa celebrated the birth of a new dawn where one of life’s basic needs – food – has been made accessible with honor, dignity, pride, and respect. 

On Feb. 4, Gary Hamer from the City’s Finance Department will attend the NCDA’s conference to accept the award on the City’s behalf and give a presentation on the project.