J500 Media and the Environment

Gas Station Groceries by mackenzies09

Growing up I never thought of the supermarket as a luxury. Walking the expansive aisles, in awe of the limitless choices, I believed everyone shopped this way. Sadly, I was wrong.

For many communities, those of which are deemed low-income or of minority population, supermarkets are an urban myth. Residents of these neighborhoods must turn to gas stations and dollar-themed stores or take a series of buses to “nicer” areas, to put food on the dinner table.

Milk was available at this gas station.

Milk was available at this gas station.

In one area of Northeast Kansas City, Kansas, options range from Citgo to Quick Pick. There are small ethnic markets that cater to Asian and Hispanic residents, but these are typically the size of an average convenience store as well. The local Family Dollar is the best option for many residents.

One might ask, what types of food can you buy at Family Dollar?

A shopping list might look something like this:
bacon                          lunch meat
fruit punch                  pop tarts
hot dogs                       cheese
cake mix                      cookies
chips                             eggs
frozen pizza                ice cream
frozen French fries

Ok, so you could argue for the eggs, cheese, and maybe the lunch meat. But where are the fresh vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and unprocessed meat? Unfortunately this diet consists of a lot of sugar, sodium, fat and preservatives.

Urban dwellers are forced to forgo the healthiest of staples because they just aren’t sold in their neighborhoods. But these residents have a lot more buying power than corporate giants would ever like to believe. Social Compact, an non-profit organization that researches underserved urban markets, found that nine of LA’s grittiest neighborhoods had been grossly underestimated by the US Census Bureau. The annual income for this area was found to be $1.9 billion higher than what the census had reported.

Frozen pizza of every variety!

Frozen pizza of every variety!

$1.9 billion higher. Sounds like these people have the income to buy fresh produce, if only it was made available to them. If the well-being of these people isn’t a draw for major chains, the cash in their pockets should be.


photos from my local convenience store


2 Comments so far
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Gas station groceries: a lot of really unhealthy and unappetizing options, and ironically, really expensive. I can definitely see how this would be an only option for people who don’t live near grocery stores.

I remember when the Casbah moved into downtown Lawrence, and it was celebrated for being an organic option for those who live downtown and can’t make it several blocks away to a grocery store, let alone an organic one. Small grocers like that might be the key to getting fresher food in areas with just gas stations and not grocery stores.

Comment by jessicasb

Mom and Pop establishments would be ideal for these neighborhoods. But running a small business is not an easy task. The neighborhood in KC has a population of mostly children and the elderly. The young, middle-aged people move on to “better” things, leaving a dwindling workforce.

Comment by mackenzies09

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