A community effort to establish a fresh-food market in the Lower Ninth Ward is taking shape. The first step is in a new plan written by residents.
The Lower Ninth Ward Food Access Coalition is selling T-shirts that read “More Food. Less Miles.” That’s basically the goal. Residents now mostly shop for groceries and fresh food at a Wal-Mart in Chalmette, more than three miles away in St. Bernard Parish. Coalition spokeswoman Summer Moore said at a community meeting that until a store opens, the best short-term solution would be a mobile grocery store to travel to customers.
“We’re working as kind of developers and facilitators, making sure the right people meet each other so we can get those things that the community wants in our neighborhood," Moore said. "So we’re doing the plan. We’re doing the budget. We’re doing the neighborhood surveys. We’re going to be starting those neighborhood surveys probably around the end of March, just to get an idea of what people actually want — actual products. Because when it comes to mobile markets that matters because you’re not working with a lot of space.”
Burnell Cotlon has been struggling to open a market at Caffin Avenue and North Galvez Street. He bought a building in 2011 and has been plowing through Hurricane Katrina repairs and red tape ever since.
“It’s a dire need for it. The high blood pressure in the Lower Ninth Ward amongst African Americans, the high cholesterol. It’s because of the poor choices of food that we have. And having a fresh food grocery store that would help out not just the health-wise, would also help out economically because it will create jobs.”
Moore says the mobile store could be in service by the end of the year. Cotlon says he can open as fast as he can get some help with renovations and funding.