NEW ORLEANS —Today, Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s Office of Economic Development, in partnership with Propeller, Top Box Foods, The Food Trust, and Liberty’s Kitchen, announced the launch of the Healthy Corner Store Collaborative, which will leverage existing infrastructure to make fresh, healthy foods more accessible to families in food deserts as well as to increase profits for store owners.
“This innovative program is the perfect example of New Orleans serving as the most immediate laboratory for innovation and change,” said Mayor Mitch Landrieu. “The Fresh Food Retailer Initiative is helping to bring fresh food to underserved neighborhoods throughout the city, promoting a better quality of life and fostering healthier lifestyle habits. A healthy New Orleans is a prosperous New Orleans.”
The Healthy Corner Store Collaborative seeks to eliminate the perceived lack of customer demand for fresh foods in already underserved areas and change the misconception that carrying fresh fruit and vegetables is not profitable for small retailers. Additionally, the pilot program will enhance economic opportunities for locally-owned and operated corner stores while creating an economic climate for New Orleanians to support local businesses. By connecting corner stores to a larger supply chain like Liberty’s Kitchen, stores will be able to carry a smaller and more manageable amount of fresh food inventory, thus decreasing spoilage and increasing the likelihood of profit.
Five corner stores, one in each council district, will be recruited and selected for the pilot program based on pre-established criteria including: capacity to participate, willingness to share financials, proximity to public transportation and percentage of alcohol and tobacco sales. Each store owner will receive one-on-one business mentoring with a food retail expert from Propeller and connection to the Liberty’s Kitchen supply chain. Stores will also receive branding, marketing and food display materials to expand fresh food offerings.
“We’re excited to leverage Propeller’s business expertise to grow our local businesses and to ensure all New Orleans neighborhoods have access to fresh, healthy foods for their families,” said Rebecca Conwell, Senior Advisor to the Mayor for Economic Development.
The Healthy Corner Store Collaborative builds on the success of the Fresh Food Retailer Initiative (FFRI), which creates equity and access to fresh, healthy foods while growing business for retailers. Launched in March 2011, FFRI originally began by awarding low-cost, flexible financing for vendors to open, renovate or expand retail outlets in areas of the city lacking fresh food access. The City awarded FFRI funding to Circle Food Store in the Seventh Ward, The Whole Foods/Refresh Project in Mid-City, Draydes Public Market in Central City,and Robert Fresh Market in the Bywater/Marigny.
About the Fresh Food Retailer Initiative
In March 2011, Mayor Mitch Landrieu announced the launch of the New Orleans Fresh Food Retailer Initiative (FFRI) in an effort to expand access to healthy food at affordable prices, provide quality employment opportunities for New Orleans residents and serve as a catalyst for neighborhood revitalization. New or existing stores funded through the FFRI program must demonstrate a commitment to the sale of fresh produce by dedicating significant shelf space to fruits and vegetables.
To fund FFRI, the City provided $7,000,000 in Disaster-Community Development Block Grant (D-CDBG) funds, which are matched 1:1 by the City’s partner, Hope Enterprise Corporation (HOPE), for a total of $14,000,000. In addition, the City has partnered with The Food Trust, a national non-profit organization with a track record for administering innovative approaches to expanding access to fresh foods across the country.
For more information about FFRI, go to http://www.nola.gov/economic-development/business-services/programs-initiatives/fresh-food-retailer-initiative/ .