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Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

‘The DNA of what we do’: Generational bait shop tackles food insecurity

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Makenzie Miller
(Illustration)

Lifelong residents of Wichita may be familiar with P&P Seed and Bait – a bait shop that has been present in the community for almost four decades and has recently undergone significant renovation to serve a new purpose. 

Mr. MC’s Market, the store’s new title, is committed to combating food insecurity and feeding their neighbors. The store now includes affordable produce such as fruit, vegetables and other household staples. 

For families living within the 44-square mile radius in Wichita that is marked as a food desert, maintaining access to nutritional, reasonably-priced food is an ongoing struggle.

The magnitude of the issue has not deterred community members from taking action against food insecurity in the city. Organizations like Kansas Appleseed and ICT Community Fridge work daily to organize better access to nutritional food through efforts, like free food pantries and aid with food stamp applications. 

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When Quantin McIntosh’s family bought the bait shop a year ago, they joined this effort and began the transition to opening Mr. MC’s Market.

“We’re constantly adding more products, more fruits, more vegetables, more plants, more dog food, just expanding our base,” McIntosh said. 

Besides fresh produce and everyday items, Mr. MC provides hot meals to hungry customers, snack packs for children, and often takes plates downtown to feed homeless individuals. McIntosh also mentioned the store’s unique line of fresh produce, including a customer favorite – yellow watermelon. 

Despite the transition, Mr. MC will stay true to their roots by remaining a one-stop-shop for all things fishing and gardening. McIntosh said that the store’s origin as a seed and bait shop aligns with establishing food security in the community.

“I would say that, you know, healthy eating and, you know, sustainable healthy eating is kind of in the DNA of what we do,” McIntosh said.  “We started out with seeds … so that people can have a garden and be sustainable and, of course, bait for fishing.”

The motivation

While there are different definitions pertaining to what a food desert consists of, key features include higher-priced groceries, fewer grocery stores in the area and decreased availability of nutritious items, like fruits and vegetables. 

Knowing the effects of living in a food desert, McIntosh said his motivation for opening Mr. MC was personal.

“(I) personally, as well as people that are close to me, have combated it (food insecurity),” McIntosh said. “Diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity – a lot of those issues are compounded by the fact that, you know, there’s a difficulty finding fresh, healthy, as well as culturally appropriate produce.” 

The transition from P&P to Mr. MC’s was not an easy one. According to McIntosh, the store was planned to be closed for two to three weeks for remodeling – a process that ended up taking over four months. 

Then, a week after opening day, a business next door caught fire, causing Mr. MC to lose electricity for over a month. 

Despite these obstacles, Mr. MC draws motivation from the community members it serves. 

“(Each day) at least one person expresses their gratitude that we were able to keep the store open,” McIntosh said. “We always tell them that, you know, this is your store, we just run it and operate it for you.”

Roadblock along the way

Mr. MC’s next challenge is their recent application to Wichita’s Healthy Corner Store Initiative (HCSI) food access program. After an interview with the city on Sept. 5, McIntosh said that the store was informed that the city “pressed pause” on HCSI due to a low number of applicants. 

According to McIntosh, city officials are withholding admission into the program due to Mr. MC’s lack of experience in “handling federal grant money.” 

Despite this roadblock, Mr. MC is looking for different avenues to be accepted into the food access program by reaching out to potential partners better versed in federal grants.

“We’re just trying to position ourselves to be able to fully take advantage and help fight this food desert,” McIntosh said.

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About the Contributors
Salsabila Attaria
Salsabila Attaria, Former arts and culture editor
Salsabila Attaria was the arts and culture editor for The Sunflower during the 2023-2024 year. Attaria is a health science major.  She previously worked as a reporter and assistant news editor. She uses she/her pronouns.
Makenzie Miller
Makenzie Miller, Illustrator/Designer
Makenzie Miller is an animation major and a first-year illustrator on The Sunflower. She is from Eureka, Kansas, and enjoys not only art but also cartoons, video games, softball, and literally any type of animal. She hopes to one day be a storyboarder/concept artist for an animation company.

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