On April 23, 2019, D.C. Policy Center Fellow Randy Smith’s analysis of food deserts in D.C. was cited by WAMU:
“Our mission is to provide accessible, affordable, sustainable, healthy food for the communities that don’t have good access to grocery stores,” says Clarice Manning, a member of the Community Grocery Cooperative and a lifelong Ward 7 resident. “If you can’t walk to your grocery store or you have to travel by bus over 50 miles to get to a place where you would like to shop for good food or necessities, you shouldn’t have to do that.”
About 11 percent of D.C. is considered a food desert, meaning a place without access to affordable, healthy foods, and more than three-quarters of the city’s food deserts are in wards 7 and 8, per the D.C. Policy Center. This lack of healthy food is more than an inconvenience—it’s a public health issue that can lead to increased rates of obesity and diabetes. It’s made more tricky by the fact that food deserts generally occur in low-income areas.
But rather than depend on grocery store companies to solve the problem, Manning says that “the co-op will be a way for residents to really have a sustainable store in their neighborhood that they can control and doesn’t just up and leave. I don’t know if people remember—there used to be Murry’s everywhere, and then they just disappeared, and then the whole thing about Walmart coming east of the river, which didn’t happen.”