Fighting food deserts

Corey Givens

Dear Editor:

The issue of food deserts has become a consistent theme throughout St. Petersburg’s primary election season, particularly in the District 6 city council race.

After much conversation & collaboration with community leaders, I believe that we now have a sustainable-strategic plan that will create access to affordable and nutritious food in South St. Petersburg. The catch is, the city must be willing to invest in this community-lead plan.

Food deserts are described as an area, especially those having low-income residents, with limited access to affordable and nutritious food. By that definition, south St. Petersburg definitely qualifies.

My plan is to establish a community co-op between local nonprofits and small-business owners to provide low-income individuals and families with healthy food alternatives. What I envision is an area where local residents can have a centralized location to shop, dine, and learn how to prepare low-cost, nutritious meals.

I would utilize the space vacated earlier this year by Walmart in Tangerine Plaza as the best place to house the co-op. It’s something different that will attract visitors and capital for generational wealth through investment.

Our role as leaders is to connect citizens with the resources they need to live a healthy and productive life. A shuttle service to the Walmart on 34th Street North is just a temporary solution. We need long-term solutions that will put dollars back into the local economy.

A shortage of quality food and markets isn’t just a Midtown issue; this is a quality-of-life issue that affects all residents in our city. We’ve lost two major grocery stores in the past four years. No retail tenant can succeed in Tangerine Plaza without addressing the needs of the surrounding community. Food access is directly impacted by poverty and transportation.

We have a broad base of issues facing our city in this election. We can’t afford to stay silent or suppressed. We must take proactive measures against poverty, inequality and injustice. Our future and our livelihood will be determined based on who we vote for on or before Aug. 29.

Let’s unite St. Pete!

Corey Givens Jr

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