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 Pop Icon Prince Quietly Helped Afghan Orphans for Years

    He sent thousands of dollars to help an aid group rebuild a training center for orphan boy and girl scouts in Kabul, but kept his involvement secret

    Mali, a Way Station for Syrians Headed to Europe

    Another door may be closing for Syrians fleeing the conflict in their country, this time in Africa

    Britain’s Muslims See London Mayor Race as Victory

    Mere running of 45-year-old former government minister and son of Pakistani immigrants Sadiq Khan seen by many as turning point

    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.
    Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labori
    X
    May 05, 2016 6:44 PM
    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labor

    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Troops Recount Firefight Which Killed US Navy SEAL

    A U.S. Navy SEAL killed Tuesday, when Islamic State fighters punched through Kurdish lines in northern Iraq, was part of a quick reaction force sent to extract other U.S. troops trapped by the surprise offensive. VOA's Kawa Omar spoke with Kurdish troops in the town of Telskuf -- the scene of what U.S. officials called a "dynamic firefight."
    Video

    Video British Lawmakers Warn EU Exit Talks Could Last A Decade

    Leaving the European Union would mean difficult negotiations that could take years to complete, according to a bipartisan group of British lawmakers. While the group did not recommend a vote either way, the lawmakers noted trade deals between the EU and non-EU states take between four and nine years on average. Henry Ridgwell reports on the mounting debate over whether Britain should stay or exit the EU as the June vote approaches.
    Video

    Video NASA Astronauts Train for Commercial Space Flights

    Since the last Shuttle flight in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russian rockets to launch fresh crews to the International Space Station. But that may change in the next few years. NASA and several private space companies are developing advanced capsules capable of taking humans into low orbit and beyond. As VOA's George Putic reports, astronauts are already training for commercial spacecraft in flight simulators.
    Video

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    The White House is expressing concern about rising political chaos in Iraq and the impact it could have on the fight against the Islamic State. The U.S. says Iraq needs a stable, central government to help push back the group. But some say Baghdad may not have a unified government any time soon. VOA's White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas reports.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora