Food desert resolution expanded to include entire city

Department of City Development will make recommendations within 90 days

PHOTO: Darasp Kran

A resolution to incentivize grocery stores to open in the 7th aldermanic district has been expanded to include additional ways to increase access to affordable and fresh foods for residents across the entire city of Milwaukee.

The city’s Community & Economic Development Committee on Wednesday directed the Department of City Development to come up with a Fresh Food Access Strategy within 90 days.

The department will examine local food market data and trends, grocery store financing programs, and strategies developed by local and federal agencies, including Milwaukee’s Hunger Task Force and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“We don’t have a good handle on what works for retailers,” said Martha Brown, deputy commissioner of the Department of City Development. “There are various initiatives around the country to attract and improve access to quality food. We want to look at that and let it be a basis for our recommendations to the Common Council.”

The committee’s directive comes after a resolution was introduced earlier this month by  Alderman Khalif Rainey directing DCD to develop a program to bring a large grocery store offering fresh food options to the 7th district.

Rainey’s district, which has 40,000 residents, stretches from North 20th Street to North 60th Street and from West Center Street to West Villard Avenue and is the only one in Milwaukee that does not have a large retail grocery chain.

During an interview earlier this week, Rainey said he realized after introducing the resolution his district has a Lena’s Food Market , but he is hoping for something larger.

“I want something transformative that will anchor the community,” Rainey said. “We don’t have adequate choices.”

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