More stores high on neighborhood’s grocery list

A lack of grocery stores in north Minneapolis is at the core of the problem being discussed, leaders said.

Tiff Clements

Graduate student Steph Resnik said she usually packs her own lunch to make it through a long day on campus.

Resnik, who lives in Minneapolis’ Longfellow neighborhood, said that if she didn’t have her own car to drive to St. Paul’s Whole Foods or the Wedge in Uptown, she’s not sure how she’d get groceries.

“I don’t know where you’d shop if you lived on campus,” said Resnik, who is studying creative writing and English.

Some University students and residents of surrounding urban communities lack transportation and money to find healthful food options such as fresh fruits and vegetables.

University researchers and leaders from north Minneapolis met this week to discuss the issue as part of the University’s partnership with that community.

Angela Dawson, director of the Northside Food Project, an initiative to bring healthful and affordable food to residents of north Minneapolis, said that since a business deal fell flat in 2003 eliminating two area grocery stores, the community has been left with few food options apart from convenience stores and gas stations.

“North Minneapolis has about 70,000 people in it and we have one grocery store,” she said.

Dawson said the Northside Food Project wants to make a long-term change in north Minneapolis.

“The dream is to create a healthy and sustainable food system,” she said.

The success of food co-ops like the Wedge and North Country Co-op in other Minneapolis neighborhoods serves as successful models for north Minneapolis. She said they not only provide residents access to healthy and affordable foods, but also bring in job and education opportunities.

Bernadette Longo, professor of rhetoric and University liaison to the Northside Food Project, said she has worked with students who have been doing research and compiling data to address the food issues in north Minneapolis.

Students in her Rhetoric 5112 course have been organizing community members’ resources.

“We’re making three cookbooks with recipes that have been contributed by residents of the McKinley neighborhood,” she said. The cookbooks later will be used to help educate young people in the neighborhood about healthful food decisions.

Longo said University students and residents of north Minneapolis face similar financial and transportation issues.

“It seems like there are many barriers to food access in common between students on the Twin Cities campus and people in the north side,” Longo said.

With the nearest supermarkets, Cub Foods on 26th Avenue South and Rainbow Foods in St. Paul’s Midway, each at least a mile and a half from the Minneapolis campus, it can be difficult for students without their own transportation to make large purchases.

Brad Mateer, owner of both Harvard Market locations on Washington Avenue, said that although the store stocks a seasonal selection of produce at the Harvard Market East location, many customers shop at the market for convenience items.

“We do really well with potato chips,” he said.

Physiology and psychology senior Patty Dickmann, who has volunteered with a government nutrition program, said many students choose convenience and cost over health when it comes to their food.

“It’s easier to throw in some EasyMac and then make a salad,” she said.