Filed under: Food + Health, Justice + Outreach, Society + Media | Tags: Family Dollar, Food inequality, gas station groceries, inner city, Social Compact, underserved urban markets
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.
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
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.
$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
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