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.
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.
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.