Finding fresh food in Lincoln Park a goal for ‘fair food’ advocatesShopping for groceries in Lincoln Park is no easy task. Standing on Third Street and 21st Avenue West, you are hard-pressed to see any signs of a store selling groceries close by.
By: Elizabeth Olson, Duluth Budgeteer News
Shopping for groceries in Lincoln Park is no easy task. Standing on Third Street and 21st Avenue West, you are hard-pressed to see any signs of a store selling groceries close by.
There are no big farmers markets, the nearest large grocery store is nearly 40 blocks away, and a gas station is the only place within walking distance to buy some groceries. There are a few gardens and the occasional restaurant and even neighborhood buying clubs, but many are still left struggling to access fresh food.
“I watch summer and winter on Grand Avenue the increase in people, mothers with children, handicapped men and women walking by my house carrying Super One bags of groceries the many miles back to their homes. I have cried many times watching them struggle in the snow and rain, yet I have been too afraid to offer a ride to them,” shares a West End resident in a survey conducted about fresh food access.
This is the story of many who live in Duluth’s Lincoln Park/West End neighborhood. Lacking transportation and
access to fresh food, many in the
neighborhood go without and shop at convenience stores and fast-food
Lack of access to fresh food isn’t just a problem of food choice, but a larger problem of health and well-being.
According to the 2011 study by University of Minnesota Duluth Professor Adam Pine and John Bennett of the University of Minnesota Extension, “Many residents of these communities do not have adequate transportation and, therefore, lack the ability to shop at grocery stores in adjacent communities. There is no full-service grocery store in the Lincoln Park/West End neighborhood of Duluth. This is a problem because a lack of access to grocery stores is associated with higher rates of obesity and diabetes, as people substitute available food for healthy food.”
Residents of Lincoln Park and community groups are teaming up to address this issue and move forward with a community-driven solution.
Lisa Luokkala, director of the Healthy Duluth Area Coalition, submitted the cause to State Farm, and then enlisted CHUM, Community Action Duluth and Duluth LISC as partners to get out the vote for the Fair Food Access Campaign for Lincoln Park, winning $25,000 from State Farm to kick off the campaign this summer.
“We know that food access in Lincoln Park is most difficult for low-income seniors and young families with children,” said Luokkala.
I believe that the highest priority is to engage the community in defining the issue for themselves and shaping appropriate solutions. We are planning a door-knocking and community engagement campaign to reach every household in Lincoln Park to ask them about their situation with respect to food access and to invite them to be on a neighborhood leadership team to create solutions.”
“There will be more than one solution,” Lee Stuart from LISC says, “And we should be open to creative approaches involving producers, consumers, local businesses and intermediaries.”
According to Michael Latsch, coordinator of Seeds of Success, some of the grant will be directed to immediate actions that can benefit people who face hunger on a daily basis, such as supporting Community Action Duluth’s innovative approach to enrolling people for SNAP benefits. (SNAP is the new name for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and replaces the words “food stamps.”)
Beginning at the end of July, volunteers and community organizations will be visiting every household in Lincoln Park. Don’t be surprised if we knock on your door.
For more information about the Fair Food Access Campaign, or to volunteer for the door-knocking campaign, call Lisa Luokkala at 722-4745.
Olson is the congregational outreach director at CHUM and wrote this on behalf of the entire Fair Food Access group. CHUM is leading the Blue Cross/Blue Shield Growing up Healthy Initiative, which is engaging low-income families in Lincoln Park and throughout Duluth to identify health-related issues for local and statewide advocacy. Other partner agencies include LISC and its At Home in Duluth Collaborative, and Community Action Duluth and its Seeds of Success, which is growing gardens in Duluth.