FWet deserts have had a disproportionate impact on communities of color. Black business owners are using entrepreneurship as a way to address food deserts and systemic inequalities surrounding food accessibility. thomas robert based Houston’s first black-owned grocery store, District Market Green Grocer, to eradicate food insecurity.
Research by the Association of American Medical Colleges and the USDA found that 54 million Americans live in food-insecure households and 23.5 million people reside in food deserts. In Houston, the food insecurity rate sits at 16.6%, with more than 500,000 residents living in areas with limited access to nutritious and affordable food options. The problem of food insecurity and food deserts, which has been exacerbated by the pandemic, prompted Thomas to start District Market Green Grocer.
The 4,000 square foot market, located at 3337 Cypress Creek Pkwy, once housed a nightclub owned by Thomas. After the club closed due to the pandemic, he decided to turn the space into a grocery store to serve the needs of local community residents. The store, which opened in November 2021, carries locally and internationally sourced healthy foods and other items from Black-owned businesses.
Thomas says his company’s mission is rooted in empowering the black community by ensuring access to affordable, nutritious food and amplifying the creations of black entrepreneurs by filling shelves with their products.
“We are the first consumer. To me, that means we consume more than we actually make and produce. I feel like this is a wonderful opportunity for black culture to step up and do its part in today’s society,” he told KPRC 2 Houston. “I have people who come and pray for me to succeed. People come to buy and support. The community adopts it. He plans to open more stores in areas affected by food deserts.
Another entrepreneur who is using her business to address food insecurity in her local community is Elizabeth Abunaw, who founded Forty Acres Fresh Market in Chicago.
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