City Hall rally urges Mayor, Council to keep their word on ‘grocery gap’ funding
Together Baton Rouge will hold a rally on Monday, November 13th at 4:30pm at City Hall, 222 St. Louis Street, to urge the Mayor-President and Metropolitan Council to fulfill their commitment to fund an economic development program to attract grocery stores to “grocery gap” neighborhoods.
As candidates during last year’s elections, Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome and a majority of the current Metropolitan Council committed to support city-parish funding for a fresh food financing initiative in the amount of $1.5 million.
The proposed city-parish budget contains zero funding to implement the initiative.
It is the fourth straight year that city officials have given verbal commitment to support the project, but not followed through with funding.
In 2013, the central recommendations of the EBR Food Access Policy Commission was to start a fresh food financing initiative to bring access to healthy food to the parish’s 100,000 residents who live in low food-access areas.
Together Baton Rouge is holding the rally to urge city officials to keep their word and finally get the project off the ground.
“Budgets are statements of a community’s values and priorities,” said Edgar Cage, who helps lead Together Baton Rouge’s food access work.
“We believe our officials are sincere in their support. But it’s time we start saying, not just with our words but with our budgets and with our actions, that we value and prioritize addressing food access and economic development in our most neglected neighborhoods.”
To RSVP to attend the rally, click here.
For full details on the Fresh Food Financing Initiative, click here.
Facts on the Grocery Gap in East Baton Rouge Parish
- Nearly 100,000 residents in East Baton Rouge Parish live in “grocery gap” neighborhoods –about 20% of the parish population.
- The national average of residents food deserts is 7%
- 32,753 of the EBR residents in Grocery Gap neighborhoods are children. 13,282 are seniors.
- The Grocery Gap affects all 12 Metro Council District.
- Lack of access to health foods is directly related to obesity and obesity-related illnesses
- Lack of access to grocery stores increases the cost of food by 7 to 25%, typically in the neighborhoods least able to pay more.
- New Orleans has had a fresh food financing initiative since 2011. It has funded 6 grocery store projects, creating 200 jobs and adding 179,000 sq. ft. of food retail.
- Fresh food financing initiatives are public-private partnerships. Public funds typically leverage 8 to 10 times as much private sector funding.
Together Baton Rouge would not receive any public funds under this initiative. The organization does not accept funds from government sources, period. The funding for a fresh food financing initiative would go as incentives to grocery stores and to a community development finance initiative to administer the program.