What happened to Baton Rouge’s Healthy Food Retail Initiative?
A three-calendar year initiative released by Mayor Sharon Weston Broome’s administration in late 2019 to recruit new grocery merchants to underserved neighborhoods in the parish sunsetted last yr devoid of any specials for a new retail store.
For the Wholesome Food items Retail Initiative, the administration partnered with Hope Company Company of the Mid-South, a Jackson, Mississippi-based credit rating union. The intention was for Hope Business to present financial loans to eligible grocers arranging to open up shops in certified food items deserts in the parish.
The $1.8 million contract with Hope was supposed to be funded via $750,000 from the town-parish’s normal fund, $750,000 from Group Enhancement Block Grant funds and $300,000 from the mayor’s Wholesome BR software.
Hope Business is the very same firm that partnered with New Orleans in 2011 for its New Food items Retailer Initiative. That metropolis and Hope Business partnered on $14 million in repackaged Neighborhood Growth Block Grant resources to the program, which financed the opening of 3 new merchants, which include a Complete Foods Market place.
Due to the fact no new grocer was recruited as a result of the application, metropolis-parish spokesperson Mark Armstrong says the town-parish in the long run compensated only $26,000 to its application companions, Hope Organization and Pennsylvania-primarily based nonprofit The Foods Belief to deal with administration costs. That $26,000 was compensated through Healthier BR and was funded by means of philanthropic contributions, in accordance to Armstrong.
The remaining $1.7 million earmarked for the plan was supposed to be used as bank loan funds for grocers who made the decision to open up a new retail store.
“Ultimately, the deal arrived and went with that initiative and we have not uncovered a grocer yet,” Armstrong claims. “The administration however really considerably needs to support a new grocery keep and is however fully commited to furnishing funding after we find a companion.”
Even though this distinct initiative in the end didn’t pan out, Armstrong stresses that the city-parish stands ready to spend in a new keep and has built progress in cultivating entry to clean meals in underserved neighborhoods, including its partnership with Greenback Common to inventory fresh new produce at its north Baton Rouge retailers as properly as with Our Woman of the Lake’s Geaux Get Nutritious method.
The new Rouses grocery prepared for north Baton Rouge, on the corners of Florida Boulevard and North Ardenwood Push, was not section of the initiative, Armstrong suggests.