Food deserts – lack of access to grocery stores selling affordable, fresh foods – are critical issues in impoverished communities, including many New Orleans neighborhoods. Actor Wendell Pierce, a New Orleans native, is offering solutions. The “Treme” star launched Sterling Farms, a small chain of grocery and convenience stores, throughout different food deserts in New Orleans.
His chain offers affordable and nutritious foods for customers as well as transportation. The stores offer car rides home to any customer that spends more than $50.
“The most important thing to me is creating a relationship with the community; creating an economic engine as an opportunity for them just to have access to a decent grocery store,” Pierce explained to “NBC Nightly News.”
Pierce’s approach directly counterbalances the prevalence of food deserts by increasing physical and financial access to healthier options. He also situated his stores in areas with single mothers, children and the elderly, who are the three largest demographics impacted by food deserts.
This is the latest of Pierce’s efforts to rejuvenate his native city. He assisted with the rebuilding of the Pontchartrain Park neighborhood of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and has consistently lobbied for financial resources for the still-recovering city.
His activist work is commendable and a premiere example of using a larger platform to facilitate effective change.