October 28 2013

10 Corner Stores, 1 Supermarket: New Orleans Food Desert Encourages Poor Nutrition

New Orleans, Louisiana is a city loved for its famous food culture and its assortment of unique dishes. So it’s a shame when one also learns this food loving city has also been named a food desert. Despite these famous dishes, resources to healthy food become a scarcity for many low income neighborhoods which are located a mile or further from the nearest supermarket.

The national average is one grocery store for every 8,500 people, whereas Nola has only one for every 14,000 people. Not to mention 20% of households in the state of Louisiana are under the poverty line and lacking transportation. Due to long distances to fresh produce, corner stores become an easy option for food. Corner stores overpopulate the city providing fast, unhealthy, super cheap options of fried chicken, po-boys, and processed foods.

One of the best corner stores around and still has no fresh produce, New Orleans

Because food deserts exist in all states and are the result of risky investments in low-income areas, the federal government started the Healthier Food Financing Initiative, which supports projects that increase the availability of grocery stores. Healthier Food Retail Study Group was then created by the Louisiana State Senate to research local needs. With the findings of the study group, the Fresh Food Retailer Initiative (FFRI) was started on a local level to provide funding for public and private investments in forms of loans and grants to underserved areas.

New Orleans is making much effort to bring healthy food options to critical need areas. So far, two have been built; the Food Co-Op in Bywater and another local favorite, Rouses in the Central Business District. With funding between $7 million and $14 million in place, two more grocery stores – Circle Food Store and Whole Foods – are scheduled to open at the end of 2013.

Seventh Ward architectural icon, Circle Food Store was first built in 1939 as the first grocery to be owned by an African American. The new Whole Foods, located on Broad and Bienville is part of the Broad Community Connections, a non-profit organization working to revitalize Broad Street. These grocery stores become important features of the city because the goal is not only providing these areas with fresh food but creating local jobs, community revitalization, and food education.

Old St. Bernard Market under renovations to become a grocery chain, New Orleans

In developed countries such as America, Europe, and Brazil an unjust global food system still exists. What do other countries do to fight against the world hunger crisis; making food access sustainable?

Credits: Images by Allyson McAbee. Data linked to sources.

Allyson McAbee

Allyson McAbee is a graduate of Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge with a degree in Landscape Architecture. Currently living in New Orleans, Louisiana she works at a residential design, build firm while volunteering at gardens and farms around the city. Traveling to various countries initially sparked her interests in Landscape Architecture. While traveling, her desire to understand relationships between various cultures and their environments became apparent. Immediately after graduating Allyson continued her passion for traveling before making a home in New Orleans. In the Big Easy her love for culture, people, food, dancing, music, visual and performance art are available by walking down the street. Allyson plans to pursue a Masters in Urban Studies with a focus on anthropology. Finding fulfillment in community social planning, she would like to not only design with the environment in mind, but for the people who live in it. Her writing will be reflective of her interests in cultural relationships to land.

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This entry was posted on Monday, October 28th, 2013 at 9:45 am and is filed under Architecture, Community/Economic Development, Education and Careers, Environmental Non-Profit, Infrastructure, Urban Development/Real Estate. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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4 Responses to “10 Corner Stores, 1 Supermarket: New Orleans Food Desert Encourages Poor Nutrition”

  1. Gina Kiani Says:

    With all that funding, a geographic or GIS analysis of underutilized arable open space for urban agriculture potential I think could really empower the community!
    Here in Oakland, where certain areas are also deemed food deserts, non-profits like Food First and People’s Grocery are bringing local grown produce and the economic opportunities that come with such community gardens from sales and labor as well as the recent California Homemade Food Act recently passed that is expanding such potential into other homemade products that can be processed, packaged and sold next to the fruits and vegetables that they’re derived from!
    It’s good to see more grocery stores coming to the area but when it comes to serving low-income communities, a number of small to mid-sized gardens I think would do a lot more than a Whole Foods Store~

  2. Christopher M. Sims Says:

    The importance of alternative food sources can’t be stressed enough! The so-called “free” market economy is so propped up by subsidies, lobbies, and graft that the only choice consumers have in the mainstream food system is purely of their own perception. In EVERY large city in the developed world, emergency reserves are regular sources of food for ever-growing numbers of the population. That’s food insecurity plain and simple. I completely agree with the commenter above, urban community gardening needs to be mission critical for neglected urban spaces. The benefits are too many to list here, but I’ve published an article called “Garden With Neighbors” (pg. 39) on the PDF on this link:
    http://louisville.edu/kiesd/sustain-magazine/SUSTAIN-27.pdf
    There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to hunger and food insecurity, but urban community gardens represents the agency of residents to take community-building, nutrition access, public safety, and public health into their own hands and MUST be supported.

  3. Allyson McAbee Says:

    Thanks so much for the article, it’s great! I couldn’t agree more with both of you guys there is no one solution to hunger. And luckily here in New Orleans more and more community gardens, urban gardens, and farmers markets are appearing. As well as non-profits such as Holly Grove Farmers market, the Food Co Op, and Grow dat youth farm. In addition the renovation of the St. Roch Market will be opening soon. Unfortunately most of these great gardens exist uptown which is impractical, even with a car. There is so much more urban farming opportunity here. With the input of these case studies and research we are encouraged. Here in Nola, we do things on Nola time. The fact that groceries are appearing (compared to no food option before) is a beautiful step in the right direction and hopefully just the beginning.

  4. Allyson McAbee Says:

    For the record, Circle Foods Grand Opening was Friday January 18th 2014! This is very exciting for the community! And already bringing us all together as there will be a Martin Luther King Jr. Party at Circle Foods, Monday January 20th 2014 to Celebrate his life, the people of this community, and our future as one!

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