(CBS DETROIT) – We firstabout a Black-owned grocery store set to open on the city’s east side, and now it has come full circle as we take a closer look at the work being done to create a more equitable food system in Detroit.
“The city really showed up and showed out on our first day, and it’s been very steady ever since,” Raphael Wright said.
“This store is the only convenient grocery store that’s in this area,” Wright continued.
Over the course of six years, Wright, with the help of crowdfunding and a grant from Motor City Match, took what once was a food swamp or an area with more access to less nutritious foods than nutrient-dense foods and turned it into a hub for fresh produce.
“I do want a healthier Detroit,” Wright said.
His goal is to aid in a large-scale effort to create a more sustainable and equitable food system in the city.
“He came already connected to the community,” Winona Bynum said.
“So, he opened with the idea of making sure that he’s serving the community’s needs,” she continued.
Bynum, a registered dietitian, heads Detroit’s Food Policy Council, a group dedicated to supporting grocers like Wright while ensuring Detroiters are aware of healthy food options and policies promoting food security.
“Only about five to 10% of Detroit is designated as a food desert,” Bynum said.
“However, we do have the need for more food access; we’re not where we want to be,” she continued.
In fact, according to the Council’s latest food metrics report, nearly 70% of Detroit households are food insecure, a 7% increase since 2019, confirming the city’s need for the Neighborhood Grocery and a hope for more full-service stores just like it.
“As a black person, we’ve got a lot to fight for, and we can’t do it off McDonald’s,” Wright said.
“So, it’s time to put some healthier food options in the community,” he continued.
Neighborhood Grocery is located in Detroit’s Jefferson Chalmers neighborhood; it’s now open Tuesday – Sunday from 9 AM – 9 PM.
According to Wright, this is just the store’s “soft opening,” and he’s using this time to collect community feedback before November’s grand opening.