Identifying food deserts and recruiting grocery stores

As I was reading through this month's issue of Governing Magazine, I turned to Tod Newcombe's column, Urban Notebook. He writes about issues that affect not only the urban populations, but issues that affect cities of all shapes and sizes. His May column addresses food deserts, which is an ongoing problem that our great country faces.

From Buxton's perspective, the first step a city needs to take is to identify the problem. If you have a hunch that there are blighted areas (or new areas of residential development) that have little or no access to fresh foods, solidify your hunch by digging a little deeper! The problem is definitely not going to fix itself or go away. Spend time and resources on figuring out exactly who lives in the food desert trade area and go from there. The next step after understanding who those customers are and then try to recruit a grocer to the area. This might be a local grocer who has a store in a similar trade area. Or a local entrepreneur that is interested in starting his own business. Or a national retailer who has created a store format for this particular problem.

Take the first step and understand if in fact you do have a food desert. It's a growing problem and retailers are recognizing the opportunity to fix these problems by expanding their business. It's a win-win situation when addressed appropriately.