For decades residents of lower income neighborhoods have struggled with the disappearance of the full service grocery store. In most of Syracuse's African-American neighborhoods, a trip to the grocery store is as easy as walking a half-mile. If you have a car, going to an Aldi's, a Wal-Mart Super Center or Wegmans is an easy task. But for those without transportation, obtaining fresh produce, meats and staples at a reasonable price is difficult.
Health officials cite the connection between the availability of fresh foods and the poor health of residents in some neighborhoods.
Critics call it "food apartheid," because food market chains decline to service inner city areas despite the large concentration of potential customers.
A solution is in the works on the south side
Jubilee Homes, The South Avenue Business Assn., the Alliance of Communities Transforming Syracuse and local clergy have come together in an effort to change that situation on the city's South side. Securing $350,000 from the Midland Regional Treatment Facility mitigation funds, Jubilee has purchased the property at 601 South Avenue.
The location is currently home for Hoxie Painting, but at one time housed one of several neighborhood grocery stores in the area.
Walt Dixie, executive director of Jubilee Homes, is excited about the prospect. "We have major players here. There are people who have MBA's with financial management experience who are eager to get on board," he said.
Dixie points out that in other parts of the country developers have been lured to building in urban settings. "We're aiming for a store that's developed and owned by the community. We'll reach out to others for assistance, but this has to be primarily done by this community."
Lori N. Tape Special Project Manager of Jubilee Homes discussed the process by which the grocery store would be presented to the community. Tape fields lots of calls from people wanting to be involved with this project. Tape also recalls, "As a north side resident I live near the smallest of a large chain grocery store. We don't get the same service that's given at their other locations. So I think the disparity between under-served neighborhoods and access to grocery stores is income. It's not just a racial issue, but an economic issue. People who find they're living in certain neighborhoods regardless of race are subject to sub-standard shopping options."