Survey: Some areas in Houston lack grocery stores

December 1, 2011 4:47:42 PM PST
A neighborhood is stuck in the middle of a so-called food desert. That means it's lacking grocery stores and healthy food options. But, now it's getting some relief.

Some residents in north Houston will finally get a new grocery store in their neighborhood. And on Friday, it's likely the parking lot of the new grocery store on North Shepherd and Victory will be jam-packed with cars. It's a win-win situation for local residents trying to stretch their household budgets.

But food deserts are a problem here in Houston.

A recent survey by a non-profit organization that focuses on healthy eating found that Houston has 185 fewer grocery stores per capita than the national average.

Fresh, healthy affordable food is not something Acres Homes residents take for granted.

"We have to go all the way out to I-45 and West Road to get to Walmart," resident Julie Hobley said.

They live in what's called a "food desert," a section of the city without enough access to grocery stores. What's more is that this area is not alone.

"In Houston, food deserts are a big problem. We have more food deserts than other metropolitan cities in the US," said Laura Spanjian with the city of Houston.

But in Acres Homes, things are about to change thanks to a new addition to the neighborhood. Joe V's Smart Shop is set to open its doors Friday.

"We've got a great produce department, a great meat department, several different seafood items, a bakery; so we're proud of the fresh products that we're going to be offering this community," said Armando Perez with Joe V's.

It's a big deal when you consider some 440,000 Houston-area residents don't have access to good, quality nutritious food at low prices.

"It's wonderful. We needed a good supermarket in our neighborhoods. Some of the elderly people don't have cars, now they can walk," resident Gail White said.

The city of Houston is trying to encourage more companies to invest in under-served communities. Tax giveaway deals to three other grocery stores have been signed as a way to help companies open new stores in food-deserted areas.

It's giving Acres Homes residents a renewed sense of optimism.

"It's going to help us a lot. I can save more for one thing," resident Arthur Pete said.

This is Joe V's fourth store in Houston. A lot of the people who work here live in the area say it's another added benefit of having the store here.

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