One month after the riots in Baltimore following the Freddie Gray protests, residents are facing a number of hurdles in rebuilding their community. One of the most pressing issues is a lack of access to quality food choices.
Most people in West Baltimore rely on corner stores for their grocery shopping but have trouble finding items like milk and bread since many of those stores were looted during the unrest. Instead of healthier choices, cheaper items like chips, soda, beer, and candy has become far more prevalent in West Baltimore corner stores.
One local shopper named George is worried that Baltimore politicians won’t assist in rebuilding the stores destroyed during the riots. “This neighborhood is so deprived, they don’t care one way or the other,” he said. “All the money is in the downtown area… [in West Baltimore] people understand their condition, and they just role with it.”
The problem is severe enough that some have started labeling the area as a “food desert.” While access to healthier foods in areas with less income isn’t an issue unique to Baltimore, the situation in West Baltimore has residents concerned that the neighborhood’s recovery from last month’s riots will only slow down further.
Baltimore is facing a poverty epidemic with more than 24% of the population living below the poverty line. With West Baltimore lacking the money to pay for more expensive foods, residents are left with cheaper but less healthy options.
Local faith communities have been attempting to alleviate the situation by providing better food resources for families, but the area continues to lack a permanent solution in businesses that are able to provide healthy food at an affordable price.
“We just have to cope,” one resident of West Baltimore said. “They always forget about us.”