High profile grocery store closures in working class neighborhoods have galvanized community efforts and political will to address grocery store gaps – albeit in a reactive manner. Grocery stores are an essential part of our communities, providing access to food, medicine, jobs, household items and banking services. Their relevance merits a robust focus on policy solutions.
This Grocery Store Assessment, authored by Roger Sikes, Cuyahoga County Board of Health, and Dr. B.J. Fletcher, Visiting Assistant Professor at the Levin College, is a collaboration among public sector entities and neighborhood leaders to better understand the grocery store landscape, learn from implementation efforts and develop proactive policy solutions. There are 223 small, mid, and large-scale grocery stores and 11,000 grocery workers in Cuyahoga County. About 14% (178,000) of county residents are lower-income AND lack a grocery store in their neighborhood – what we characterize as a food desert. Families living in these locations are also less likely to own a vehicle.
Considerations resulting from community dialogue on grocery store issues: -How might we better anticipate grocery store closures? -Are there strategies that government can employ to stabilize existing stores? -How might we use community benefit agreements among grocers, community, and government?
This report was organized by the Cuyahoga County Board of Health, Cuyahoga County Planning Commission, Cleveland Department of Public Health, and Cleveland State University’s Maxine Goodman Levin School of Urban Affairs.
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