News / USA

Community Grocery Brings Affordable Healthy Food to Inner City

St. Louis, Missouri neighborhood co-op provides healthful options to an underserved part of the city

The Old North co-op, a community-run inner city grocery store, specializes in selling locally-grown produce.
The Old North co-op, a community-run inner city grocery store, specializes in selling locally-grown produce.

Multimedia

Audio

U.S. First Lady Michele Obama has drawn national attention to the problem of "food deserts" - neighborhoods that may have plenty of McDonalds and other fast food restaurants, but no supermarket with fresh vegetables and other affordable, healthy foods.

Residents of the central-U.S. city of St. Louis are working to turn one inner-city neighborhood from "food desert" to oasis. They've opened a community-run grocery store - the first of its kind in the city.

Food desert

For the past decade, the Old North St. Louis neighborhood has had only one grocery store. But the dilapidated market carries mostly junk food, cleaning supplies and liquor. Its tiny produce section consists of a handful of sorry-looking vegetables and fruit.

Abandoned houses are a common sight in the Old North St. Louis neighborhood.
Abandoned houses are a common sight in the Old North St. Louis neighborhood.

Old North resident Etta Adams says until now, she's had to do her shopping outside the neighborhood. "Well, there haven't been nothing over here - too much to - you know, to shop from."

Kara Lubischer is a community development specialist with the University of Missouri Extension. She says the nearest major supermarket is about 5 kilometers away. "Which doesn't sound that far if you have a car, but it sounds very far if you have to get on a bus, and you have to carry your week's worth of groceries home with you."

About 40 percent of households in this mostly African-American, low-to-middle income neighborhood don't have access to a car.

"The idea for a grocery store came directly from the residents." Lubischer says people in the neighborhood liked the idea of a food co-op: a community-owned grocery, where members would have a say in how the store would be run, and what products it would carry.

Almost all the work for the co-op project has been carried out by volunteers.

A diverse crowd fills the Old North Grocery Co-op on opening day.
A diverse crowd fills the Old North Grocery Co-op on opening day.

Food Oasis

On Saturday, a diverse crowd packed into the newly-renovated one-storey brick building, for the grand opening of the Old North Grocery Co-op.

"I'm very happy about it," said neighborhood resident Gudayzke. "I don't know whether this will be my main stopping point or not, but it certainly does give me another option."

Luz Maria Evans agreed. "I mean it's great because now we can have something convenient to, to make the shopping's list. Everything you need. Near."

Old North St. Louis Restoration Group director Sean Thomas says the co-op will sell a variety of foods and household items. "This store will be structured to suit the tastes and desires of the community who are here, as well as other customers who might come from outside the neighborhood."

Thomas says the store will also rely as much as possible on local producers. "One of the farmers we've been working with from the very beginning is a guy named Rusty Lee."

Local produce

Rusty Lee and his family raise vegetables and livestock on his farm in Truxton, Missouri, about 100 kilometers west of St. Louis.

Farmer Rusty Lee supplies fresh meat and produce to the Old North Grocery Co-op.
Farmer Rusty Lee supplies fresh meat and produce to the Old North Grocery Co-op.

He has recruited other local farmers to help him supply the co-op with fresh produce and meat. "We saw it as an opportunity to help somebody out, to help ourselves out. It's a market that no one has really been servicing."

Old North resident Claretha Morant is grateful for Lee's efforts to bring fresh produce to her neighborhood. "For us peoples that don't have transportation and stuff, you know, that's a big improvement for us."

Without a car, Morant has had to depend on friends and neighbors to take her grocery shopping in other parts of the city. "And now, I can just go on my own, you know, just get the bus and go on my own now. I'm glad of that. I'm proud of it."

Organizers stress the co-op is open to all shoppers - not just members.

But in St. Louis, a community-run grocery is an untested concept. Its survival may depend on how willing area residents are to change their shopping and eating habits.

You May Like

Video Analysts: Beijing Parade a 'Bazaar' of Stolen Technology

Show commemorating victory over Japan in World War II involved long, medium and short range missiles, a range of tanks and 200 fighter aircraft More

Bernie Sanders Surge Reflects US Shift on Socialism

Although most analysts say it is unlikely he will get the Democratic nomination, Sanders' campaign opens up questions and issues that are otherwise marginalized More

Video On IS Frontline, Kurdish Fighters Ready for Offensive

Peshmerga soldiers say although they need more heavy artillery, they are poised to take the fight to the Islamic State extremists on their turf More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outragei
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 04, 2015 11:36 AM
The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outrage

The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Russians Observe 11th Anniversary of Beslan School Attack

This week, Russians have been observing the 11th anniversary of the attack by Islamic militants on a school in Russia's North Caucasus region that killed more than 330 hostages, including 186 children. The three-day siege and massacre that started on September 1, 2004 took place in Beslan, a town in the republic of North Ossetia, and is one of the bloodiest terrorist acts ever in Russia. VOA's Mike Richman reports.
Video

Video Native Americans Debate: Father Serra, Saint or Sinner?

Pope Francis will canonize an 18th century missionary to Spanish California during a papal visit to the United States this month.  But some Native Americans have criticized the elevation to sainthood of the missionary priest, Junipero Serra. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video China Announces Troop Cuts at WWII Parade

Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday announced plans to cut the world’s largest military force by 300,000 troops. The announcement was made during a massive military parade to commemorate victory over Japan in World War II. The event was shunned by most Western leaders and for some is raising fresh concerns about China’s military ambitions. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.

VOA Blogs