INDIANAPOLIS — On Wednesday RTV6 reported on the growing need for more grocery stores in parts of Indianapolis, and one day later mayoral candidate and State Senator Jim Merritt made moves to address food inequity.
RTV6 found that A&I Variety Meats and Produce on the city's northeast side may have to close, which would create another food desert in Indianapolis and further the idea of 'food apartheid,' an issue Merritt says affects Indianapolis.
Merritt says the way to get businesses like A&I to stick around and populate the area is to create more funds to incentivize the creation of more bodegas.
"Establish a bodega; a corner grocery. Three bodegas in Indianapolis right now and they're cutting the ribbon on the third one today," Merritt said. "They have low overhead, they recapture food and sell it, and it's a great business model."
According to Merritt, one in five people have limited access to healthy food options near their homes in Indianapolis and laid out a plan on Thursday to address that problem.
In response to Merritt's public address today, Mayor Hogsett's office submitted the following release to RTV6:
"We applaud Senator Merritt for highlighting a number of initiatives that Mayor Hogsett has implemented in tackling food insecurity, including Cleo's Bodega at Flanner House -- the first recipient of the City’s Healthy Food Access Grant. Food insecurity is a serious challenge, one Mayor Hogsett wasted no time in addressing, holding a Food Insecurity Summit in December of 2015, prior to taking office. Over the last three and a half years, Mayor Hogsett has hired the first-ever Director of Food Insecurity for the City of Indianapolis. This forward-thinking role utilized community feedback to implement solutions including a six-month pilot program with Lyft to help connect Indianapolis residents who live in food deserts to grocery stores. This program recently announced additional grocery partnerships in response to the closing of the Walmart Neighborhood Market #5406. Additionally, Mayor Hogsett has spearheaded mobile grocery options aimed at food deserts, a “food compass app” that will help residents in food deserts find the nearest grocer or pantry, a 12-week training program for 'food advocates,' and the 'Food in Transit' partnership with community organizations coming together to launch an innovative pilot program that will meet residents where they are, providing fresh foods at the Julia M. Carson Transit Center."