Addressing Food Deserts in Our Neighborhoods
The new Superlo grocery store at Lamar and Airways opened in December to quite a celebration. Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland, several local officials, the Grizzlies drumline and Grizz himself were on hand to kick things off. At one point, Mayor Strickland played drums and Grizz danced. The celebration was well-warranted. This is a much-needed grocery store for the nearly 100,000 residents who were in the middle of a United States Department of Agriculture defined food desert.
The new Superlo location was aided with a 15-year Community Builder PILOT and a $100,000 low interest loan from EDGE to go along with another $100,000 from the City. The new location brings 28 full-time grocery store positions earning an average of $35,500 as well as part-time positions. Beyond that, the project will generate an estimated $3.1 million in local tax revenues during its PILOT term.
The USDA states that in most cities, food deserts are found in low-income areas. Memphis, unfortunately, follows suit. On the USDA’s food desert atlas, the designation covers the city’s poorest zip codes — 38126, 38105, 38108, and 38106 – areas that have an average median household income of $19,107 a year.
Through assistance by EDGE, business owners, city and county government and other entities, strides are being made. The Lamar Avenue Superlo is now the fifth grocery store to be approved by the EDGE Board for an area with limited food options. Three of those are now a reality including the Lamar Avenue Superlo, the Save a Lot at the Binghampton Gateway Center and the Cash Saver at the Southgate Center on South Third Street; and we now have news that a grocer could soon come to the planned Frayser Gateway Center, which EDGE approved in 2017. Thanks, in part to EDGE’s assistance, residents in several neighborhoods throughout Memphis now have access to a better variety of healthy and affordable food