Meet the man trying to bring Detroit’s first Black-owned grocery store to the city in years

(WXYZ) – A Detroit entrepreneur battles food insecurity by trying to bring healthy foods to a Detroit neighborhood. His grocery store will be the first black-owned grocery store in town since 2014.

There are 72 grocery stores in the city of Detroit, but many people who live in the city are not satisfied with their shopping options.

A study by the Food Fair Network found that Detroiters frequently go to the suburbs to buy their groceries and spend more than $ 200 million outside the city each year.

Now a man with a plan for a black-owned grocery store in Detroit wants to keep some of that money in town, and he’s doing it all through crowdfunding.

Raphael Wright said his vision for the corner of Essex and Manistique is to breathe new life into a supermarket that closed about a year ago in the Jefferson-Chalmers neighborhood.

“To build a community, you have to have access to healthy food. So it starts with grocery stores,” Wright said.

It’s a concept that he said was four years in development.

Wright said the room where the neighborhood grocery store is located is being demolished, a resource such neighborhoods desperately need.

“Eating healthy near where you live is important to community building and it’s a matter of life and death,” Wright said. “Lots of people in Detroit don’t have a car, so they’re limited to convenience stores, fast-food restaurants, and places that are very close to where they live.”

Other residents who have transportation say they need to keep traveling.

“I really think it would only be beneficial for this neighborhood because, like I told you, we have to go all the way through Connors to get in. Let’s just say you need a bite and you can run right there and get them, “said Vanessa Hamilton.

Wayne State University is part of the Great Grocer Food Project, which held a meeting in March. The project deals with problems that prevent food sovereignty.

“According to Feeding America, 20.9% of people and 22.9% of children in Wayne County lack basic food security,” said Wayne State President Dr. M. Roy Wilson.

That’s roughly 1 in 5 people who experience food insecurity at some point during the year.

Wright said the community is part of the turnaround in this neighborhood as the project is being funded through community equity crowdfunding. He raised nearly $ 60,000 and the neighbors have a stake.

“When you buy stocks, you will get interest in that investment when we as a company break even and start capitalizing,” Wright said. “But you can also have a say in what color the walls will be, what things will be on the shelves and how they will be displayed. A comprehensive project that includes the neighborhood.”

Wright is also working to transform the food wasteland, where some neighborhoods do not have access to healthy food. He said they are more like food swamps in that there is food, but not the best options.

He said community gardens in the area would provide some of the fresh produce, which in turn would generate income for local gardeners.

The plan is to be open by late summer or early fall.

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