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Lack of local grocery stores is still a problem in Detroit for families

Posted at 5:42 PM, Feb 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-09 22:12:24-05

DETROIT (WXYZ) — Inflation is eating into budgets all over Metro Detroit -- but in the city itself, it's particularly concerning.

Today, Detroit is considered one of the unhealthiest cities in America - much of it stemming from issues with food insecurity - the inability to find affordable nutritious foods.

In fact, over the course of the pandemic, the city saw close to ten full-service grocery stores shut down.

“Everyone is scared, afraid, fearing what’s going to happen next,” said Joe Gappy of Prince Valley Market.

Inside Prince Valley Market- in Southwest Detroit - inflation is taking its toll.

“Beef is costing us approximately 20% more today,” said Joe Gappy.

Twenty to 30% price hikes on must need items. From poultry, to produce to pantry staples.

How can people continue feeding their families when prices keep going up like that?

The new normal- a difficult pill for any family to swallow but especially tough for mom Keyerra Richardson.

“Inflation has really hit my pockets hard,” said Detroit mom Keyerra Richardson.

And it’s not simply because she’s a single mother of two, the 40-year high inflation exacerbates a larger, underlying issue that has to more to do with where she lives.

Even in 2022, living in Detroit means you’ll struggle to get access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.

“It's not just having a grocery store, it’s having one that meets the community’s needs,” said Winona Bynum, Detroit Food Policy Council.

Today, 39% of Detroiters are food insecure. Physical access is a big part of that. There are only 62 full-service grocery stores in the city of Detroit and about 30% of residents here – do not have a car.

You might be surprised to learn that at this point, there are more dollar stores in the city than grocery stores. Whole Foods and Meijer each have one operation but Kroger, one of the largest grocery retail chains in the state, still doesn’t have a single location within city limits.

“Why don’t more big-box grocery chains invest in Detroit?” asked WXYZ’s Ameera David. “Some don’t see our city as a place to operate profitably.”

Keyerra says she’s often forced to choose less nutritious foods.

"I mean we want our kids to eat healthy, we want them to not rely on the snacks and heavy carb foods or lose time commuting out to the suburbs," said Richardson.

Making Prince Valley’s offerings all the more unique. the market one of 25 top grocers in the city- boasting an expansive selection in fresh & organic foods, all while remaining profitable —- advocates finding a glimmer of hope in what can exist.

“Soon as you walk in, you’ll see produce right here,” Raphael Wright explains the future Neighborhood Grocery store’s layout.

Over at 500 Manistique in the Jefferson Chalmers neighborhood- is Raphael Wright, the man trying to establish the first black-owned grocery store in the city in almost a decade.

“These are the floor plans for the entire building,” Wright explains.

The 6000 sq. ft. space located in what has been coined a food desert, offers a fresh take on access to fresh foods.

“Communities that can feed themselves have the ability to achieve upward economic mobility,” said Bynum.

Funded through an equity financing campaign, it allows community-invested members to profit to have a role and take control of healthy living.

“I don’t have generational wealth to do better in my community,” said Wright. “It just disrupts the status quo of how to build a business - we don’t need that type of help we can just help ourselves.”

That equity crowdfunded grocery store you saw there is set to open later this year. If you're interested in investing in it, you can do that for as little as $50. It's open to all Michiganders.