Evolution of the food desert: How a Detroit neighborhood lost its stores

Evolution of the food desert: How a Detroit neighborhood lost its stores

(CBS Detroit) Mac Street on Detroit’s east side was a lively avenue in the city.

All the way, from East Grand Boulevard to St.

The sidewalks that were once walkable lanes are now overgrown.

“This neighborhood, one of the oldest, has gone through all these waves,” said Detroit’s official historian Jamon Jordan.

“They’ve had a white journey, they’ve had a black middle-class escape. They’ve gone through a period of time when homes were burning in the Night of Demons. Often because the homeowners themselves burned their homes. Because they have to get some kind of stock from their homes and the only way What they can get is through insurance.”

“You also had a crack epidemic in the ’80s and ’90s,” Jordan continued.

“This neighborhood sees that and of course it sees the housing crisis of 2008 and 2009. This collapse of course affects this neighborhood. So this neighborhood has seen all these different levels of decline in Detroit’s history because it is old enough to see all these levels of decline.”

Jordan says it’s a reflection of what happens to the neighborhood when homeowners move their families.

“Working class, low-income, poor African Americans, many of whom can’t afford to house, without some help because banks and federal governments reshaping their policies have been going on for decades,” Jordan explained.

“Many of the working class and low-income African Americans who move into this neighborhood don’t qualify for bank loans, loans to buy homes, loans to help them fix up their neighborhoods, get their homes ready, and get pipes fixed and new roofs. And so they’re really struggling to keep their homes.”

The city historian attributes the population decline to the closure of schools and nearby businesses, including grocery stores.

“And now you have a food desert,” Jordan said.

“People have to travel miles from where they live if they want appropriate food, healthy food, culturally appropriate food. And so if they are looking for these things, in many cases they cannot go to their own neighborhoods. What is in the left are marginal businesses. .liquor stores, party stores, gas stations with a convenience store inside the gas station.”

Whole Foods is located in Midtown on Mack Avenue, but apart from Save-A-lot in Gratiot near Mack Junction, you have to travel about five miles before you reach the next store, Aldi.

According to Zip Data Maps, it affects approximately 20,000 residents of the 48,214 zip code, representing 12% of seniors.

Antoine Bryant, Detroit’s director of planning and development, says that while they can’t force market retailers to set up shop in certain neighborhoods, they are working to strengthen neighborhoods to attract stores.

“When Whole Foods was in the middle of Detroit, people thought this was never going to work,” Bryant explained.

“And if I was ever there, the place would be packed on a daily basis. This is easily one of the most expensive groceries in the country, but people will go there because it is an option they need. If you put a grocery store in the neighborhood it will do just fine.”

“So one of the things we look at when we involve all of the businesses is that we have a base of residents across the city looking for amenities and fresh food is easily one of the most important things we can provide our residents,” Bryant continued.

Bryant says city officials understand that 33% of Detroiters don’t have access to vehicles, which poses a problem for residents who live in food deserts.

He says plans are underway to tackle food insecurity by providing basic options.

“It could be something like a food cooperative or a food common, and so we try to diversify the many different ways we can provide fresh food to our residents,” Bryant said.

“We’re looking at more than just a food desert, we’re looking at the possibility that there’s a desert in the whole neighborhood if something isn’t done,” Jordan concluded.

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