Dear Editor,

The City of St. Petersburg in collaboration with GTE Financial, the Florida Farm Bureau, Pinellas County and Farm Share implemented a food distribution event for more than 525 families and individuals on the sunny Saturday morning of April 8 in the GTE parking lot on 18th Avenue South and 22nd Street South.

As I approached the Farm Share site, I could see hundreds of appreciative south St. Petersburg residents waiting to receive bags and boxes full of whole wheat bread, tomatoes, butternut squash, meat, cheese, cake and a long list of fresh food items.

When I turned to view the entire site, Mayor Kriseman was spotted giving out roaster chickens to residents and Urban Affairs Director Nikki Capehart was directing Farm Share volunteers to provide assistance in handing out other food commodity items.

The idea of the Farm Share food distribution event came out of the closure of the Walmart Neighborhood store at the Tangerine Shopping Center in Midtown, which further highlighted the urgent need for access to healthy affordable foods to improve the health and wellness of Midtown and south St. Petersburg neighborhood residents.

The City of St. Petersburg last month held a community engagement event to get input from residents and stakeholders on the types of short and long term uses for the vacant Walmart retail store. Such uses as a farmers market, a smaller grocery store or worker- owned grocer cooperative similar to the Mandela Market in Oakland, Calif., were among some of the use ideas discussed.

As the Tangerine Shopping Center foreclosure makes it through the court system, the city is committed to purchasing the controlling interest to protect this community asset and the city’s investment in the Midtown neighborhood.

The city council will also have to review and approve of this transaction and the going forward short and long-term community economic development uses of the Walmart retail store and Tangerine Shopping Center.

As part of the Warehouse Arts Alliance and Deuces Live Part 2 Design, it is important that the design consultants look at extending the commercial revitalization connection between the 22nd Street South Commercial Corridor from 13th Avenue South to the creating new shopping opportunities at the Tangerine Shopping Center at 18th Avenue South.

Coy M. LaSister
Exec. Dir., Assisted Living Community Gardens, Inc.

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