Food Deserts

Richard Claston and Jessica Graham pick out produce inside St. Louis Metro Market Sat. Dec. 19, 2015.
File photo |Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Metro Market, the mobile grocery store created to bring fresh food to neighborhoods with limited access, is adjusting to lessons learned during its first year in operation.

While the nonprofit ended the year in the red, co-founder Colin Dowling said there are lots of positive signs that it will soon be sustainable.

Jean Beaufort

A program started last year to make locally-produced fresh fruits and vegetables more affordable for low-income St. Louisans is planning to expand into area grocery stores.

Volunteers got a chance to enjoy drinks and snacks and socialize while volunteering at Operation Food Search's December Rap N Pack event.
Stephanie Lecci | St. Louis Public Radio

Not all of the food at Operation Food Search one evening last December was going to needy families.

Rather, some were appetizers to be paired with wine and beer and enjoyed by the volunteers at the University City-based food bank, as part of its "Rap N Pack" event that mixes socializing with volunteering.

Richard Claston and Jessica Graham pick up ingredients for sweet potato chili inside the retrofitted Metro bus turned into a mobile farmers market in St. Louis' JeffVanderLou neighborhood Sat. Dec. 19, 2015.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

An eye-catching retrofitted bus rolled onto an empty lot in St. Louis’ near north side Saturday to offer up fresh produce and the ingredients for sweet potato chili.

The visit launched the official start of St. Louis MetroMarket, a mobile farmers market with a mission to increase access and interest in healthy food in neighborhoods that don’t have grocery stores.

St. Louis MetroMarket President Jeremy Goss, SLU Department Chair Millie Mattfeldt-Beman and HOSCO CEO Gibron Burchett are working together to implement a grant from Incarnate Word Foundation to reduce food insecurity.
Maggie Rotermund | Courtesy Saint Louis University

A retrofitted city bus full of fresh local food is slated to roll into the JeffVanderLou neighborhood of north St. Louis this July.

(via Flickr/KOMUnews/Mike Anderson)

Last week, Schnucks announced it was closing its store on Grand Boulevard in north St. Louis. The closure adds to the "food desert" in that part of the city. However, there are several programs in St. Louis that are attempting to make it easier for people to have access to fresh, healthy food. The map above shows some of the full-service grocery stores in St. Louis. The Schnucks that is closing is the large circle.

people and produce
File Photo | Rachel Heidenry | Beacon

The business district of the Old North neighborhood, near 14th Street and St. Louis Ave., is still a work in progress. New enterprises include a pet shop and a podiatrist’s office, but old ones continue to close. One recent casualty was the Old North Grocery Co-op. After opening with a lively neighborhood celebration in the summer of 2010, the co-op quietly locked its doors in mid-October.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: It’s unusual for two supermarkets to open in St. Louis only months apart in or near neighborhoods where food deserts have taken root. That’s about to happen with the coming of two contrasting supermarkets.

Erin Williams / St. Louis Public Radio

According to the Food and Drug Administration, the definition for the term "food desert" is  "urban neighborhoods and rural towns without ready access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food," meaning that, in a lower income community a grocery store is more than a mile away. Depending on where you live in St. Louis, it may seem that there's a grocery store on every corner.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: In spite of the Saturday morning chill, customers began lining up early in front of Crown Candy Kitchen, 1401 St. Louis Ave., awaiting turns to enter the crowded eatery, known for its sundaes, assorted chocolates and "heart stopping BLT" sandwiches.

The crowd there was in contrast to the absence of people a block away at another store that should have been full: the Old North Grocery Co-op. But business there continues to be weak, stirring fears among some that the store might be forced to close its doors by summer. Others are hoping that a combination of aggressive marketing to attract more customers and recruit more volunteers will help the store survive.

graphic about monthly WIC food supplements
Alex Sciuto | St. Louis Beacon 2010

This article first appeared in the St. louis Beacon: The low-rise building at Cass Avenue and 14th Street is now a used-car lot, but many neighborhood residents still remember it as Salama, a corner grocery. It stocked some nutritious foods and infant formula as part of the federal government's WIC (Women, Infants and Children) program to help disadvantaged residents raise healthy young children.

About four years ago, federal officials accused the store and a half dozen other corner markets of mismanaging WIC and removed them from the list of approved vendors.

graphic about monthly WIC food supplements
Alex Sciuto | St. Louis Beacon 2010

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Nothing speaks louder to a mother than a silent child.

When Larry Chavis was about 2, he'd sit in the middle of the floor in a room full of teddy bears, toy cars and trucks, but he didn't seem interested in playing with them. His perplexed mother, Achaia Robinson, sensed something wasn't quite right with her son; she was confused by his dazed look and his tendency to keep to himself.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Using his fingers to rake away ankle-high weeds on a plot next to his house, George Banks finally looks up with a smile after spotting something that a visitor doesn't immediately see.

"There," he says as he slowly straightens his stout body. "Watermelon vines. Got some collards coming up, too."

Whenever his arthritis, heart disease and diabetes cooperated last spring and summer, Banks, 63, spent time tending his garden in Old North St. Louis.