May 21, 2024

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What happened to Baton Rouge’s Healthy Food Retail Initiative?

What happened to Baton Rouge’s Healthy Food Retail Initiative?

A three-calendar year initiative launched by Mayor Sharon Weston Broome’s administration in late 2019 to recruit new grocery suppliers to underserved neighborhoods in the parish sunsetted past 12 months devoid of any deals for a new retail outlet. 

For the Balanced Food items Retail Initiative, the administration partnered with Hope Business Corporation of the Mid-South, a Jackson, Mississippi-based credit score union. The intention was for Hope Enterprise to give financial loans to qualified grocers scheduling to open outlets in certified food deserts in the parish. 

The $1.8 million contract with Hope was meant to be funded by means of $750,000 from the metropolis-parish’s common fund, $750,000 from Neighborhood Improvement Block Grant cash and $300,000 from the mayor’s Healthful BR plan. 

Hope Company is the same group that partnered with New Orleans in 2011 for its Contemporary Meals Retailer Initiative. That city and Hope Enterprise partnered on $14 million in repackaged Neighborhood Development Block Grant resources to the system, which financed the opening of three new shops, which include a Complete Meals Market place.

For the reason that no new grocer was recruited by way of the software, town-parish spokesperson Mark Armstrong suggests the metropolis-parish ultimately paid only $26,000 to its program partners, Hope Company and Pennsylvania-primarily based nonprofit The Food items Have confidence in to cover administration prices. That $26,000 was paid out through Healthy BR and was funded by means of philanthropic contributions, according to Armstrong. 

The remaining $1.7 million earmarked for the method was meant to be used as bank loan funds for grocers who decided to open a new retail outlet. 

“Ultimately, the agreement arrived and went with that initiative and we have not identified a grocer nonetheless,” Armstrong claims. “The administration still very considerably needs to assistance a new grocery store and is still dedicated to offering funding when we discover a companion.”

Though this particular initiative ultimately didn’t pan out, Armstrong stresses that the metropolis-parish stands ready to spend in a new store and has designed development in cultivating entry to clean foods in underserved neighborhoods, together with its partnership with Greenback Basic to stock clean develop at its north Baton Rouge outlets as nicely as with Our Woman of the Lake’s Geaux Get Wholesome application

The new Rouses grocery prepared for north Baton Rouge, on the corners of Florida Boulevard and North Ardenwood Travel, was not portion of the initiative, Armstrong claims.