A recent post on the Church Hill People’s News website shows some of the issues that Church Hill faces in regards to accessing affordable, healthy food. Southern Barton Heights, Brookland Park, Battery Park, and Highland Park all face similar challenges as Food Deserts. There are no grocery stores in our neighborhood. There are corner stores which typically have a smaller, less quality, and more expensive selection – in addition to fewer open hours than many grocery stores. The closest grocery store to our neighborhood is the Kroger at Lombardy and Broad. Residents without personal vehicles are forced to either walk, bike, or take the bus. Aside from that they only have access to what the corner stores have to offer.

There are other challenges on the people in low income food deserts. The public transportation system in Richmond, namely the GRTC, has been cutting routes over the past couple years. And last night city council just voted to pass a bus fare hike. Additionally, there are no bike shops in Southern Barton Heights to help people who do ride bikes maintain their equipment.

Food Politics and access to affordable, healthy food are not isolated issues. They are tied into to many issues around class and race. There are reasons why certain areas do not have the access they need. Working with groups like the Richmond Transit Rider’s union can be ways to take a more holistic approach to the problem of food access in our communities.

Because this issue (like most) is a multi-issue problem, it is important that it be addressed as such. If Southern Barton Heights magically has a grocery store one day, that might not be a solution to the problem if lower class people have already been pushed out by gentrification. We need grocery stores, we need low income housing, we need public transportation, and we need strong supportive communities. The problem is not in geography, because a community is who lives there more so than it is the particular location. The people who live in Southern Barton Heights need access to healthy, affordable food and affordable public transportation and low income housing.

Take a look at this video to see what the situation is like:

http://chpn.net/news/2010/06/29/a-look-at-richmond-food-deserts_14240/

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