Delridge ‘Food Hub’? One recommendation of a new city report

March 2, 2014 at 3:33 pm | In Delridge, Health, West Seattle news | 24 Comments

A new city report reiterates that access to healthy food in Delridge is abysmal, especially for low-income families. The report follows surveys and focus groups of women in the Delridge area, and was presented to the City Council in a briefing this past week; thanks to Councilmember Tom Rasmussen for pointing it out. The report was inspired, it says, by the Seattle Women’s Commission and Councilmember Mike O’Brien looking into a Delridge community member’s concerns of how difficult it was to find healthy food in the area, even if she took transit to the store, complicated by the logistics of bringing along young children. The report’s executive summary is here, with recommendations from creating a Food Hub – maybe even with a Farmers’ Market-type produce stand – to transportation improvements, to supporting the Delridge Grocery co-op startup that’s aiming to open its market later this year. Here’s the slide deck shown at the briefing.

24 Comments

  1. In before “People should have cars/live closer to amenities/etc”. A city like Seattle having a food desert like the one in the Delridge area is depressing. Everyone should have access to the choice of fresh and nutritious food without having to drag five bags of groceries and two squirming children onto a bus. I applaud and support any attempts to bring easier healthy food access to the area.

    Comment by Andi — 6:03 pm March 2, 2014 #

  2. You make it seem that IF there is such a place that people will miraculously gravitate to it and eat these “fresh and nutritious” foods.

    The reality is watch what people buy wherever you go. People make poor decisions all the time – forgoing “good” healthy choices for faster, quicker, easier, AND CHEAPER.

    Just because the food is there, there is no guarantee it will be cheap. And even IF cheap, no guarantee it will be bought and used by those who would benefit from it.

    More likely more affluent people will take advantage of the closer location , and cheaper prices, and squeeze out others.

    Comment by Ray — 6:57 pm March 2, 2014 #

  3. So, Ray…should they just forget it then? no point since people won’t utilize it? Is that what you’re saying?. I agree, some will not avail themselves of healthier foods, but people may fool you if given the opportunity. No one eats perfectly, not even you, so I don’t think we should cast stones on anyone.

    Comment by JanS — 7:38 pm March 2, 2014 #

  4. I am very happy to see this issue coming to light and being taken seriously. Access to healthy food that is affordable in this area of the city is horrible. Luckily, without a car, we live close enough that we can walk to a butcher and veggie mart. Albeit we have to make sure to eat said veggies fast because they go bad much faster than if bought at a farmer’s market or elsewhere. That said, I wonder very much about this idea of a co-op. If I understand co-op’s correctly, people generally are encouraged to buy a membership and get a slight discount for said membership. All the co-ops I’ve been to, are not cheap places. How will the development of a co-op in the Delridge area differ from other overpriced co-ops in the city? How and where can I find more information about it?

    Comment by Kristen — 7:43 pm March 2, 2014 #

  5. Kristen – sorry, I should have linked to the Delridge Grocery website: http://delridgeproducecoop.com/
    .
    This effort has been five years in the making. It started as the Delridge Produce Cooperative (first story in our system, from almost exactly five years ago http://westseattleblog.com/2009/03/delridge-produce-co-op-updates-potluck-plan-galenas-story ) and the volunteers who founded it explored numerous possibilities for getting fresh food to Delridge. We covered many along the way. When the DESC building at 5444 Delridge Way SW was under development, it included a commercial space at community request, and decided to offer tenancy to the Delridge Grocery group which by then was exploring the idea of a coop market. Now they are continuing to raise funds via memberships and even have posted a job listing for a General Manager. There should be contact info via the website above … TR

    Comment by WSB — 8:18 pm March 2, 2014 #

  6. Delridge a food desert? I just don’t see it.

    Perhaps because I grew up where the closest store was at least 6 miles away (uphill both ways ha ha)and even that store had a dirt floor in the early years. Somehow we survived, but that’s because we planned our trips carefully.

    But anyway, the #21 bus goes down Delridge, past Westwood village and White center. That’s a 10 minute ride and if you get a transfer slip then the ride home is free. White center has so many stores with super fresh, affordable produce. And spices and curry paste, etc, at $2 a tub that would blow away any expensive yuppie co-op. Try them:

    http://buyfreshsw.wccda.org/

    I live in Burien and the closest store is nowhere near walking distance from me. Same as when I lived in Greenwood and Ballard. Many, many neighborhoods exist without an easy stroll to the grocery store.

    Most people go somewhere most days (work, school, etc.); just plan a trip to the store while you’re out and backpack home some food.

    But hey, just my two cents…

    Mostly I wrote this to put in a plug for the White Center markets highlighted in the link by the WCCDA. They really are great, and not far from Delridge!!

    Comment by Betsy — 9:01 pm March 2, 2014 #

  7. @Ray Yeah, that’s why I said I’m happy people will be offered the *choice*. Sure, when people only have crappy processed food available, then that’s all they’ll eat. But given a choice, hmmm. Plenty of Farmer’s Markets accept SNAP:

    http://www.seattlefarmersmarkets.org/events/fresh-bucks-bonus-program-snap-ebt

    And, contrary to popular belief it is not expensive to eat healthy on a budget. Perhaps another step could be offering free basic cooking and nutrition classes to those in need, in areas where food access and health are a concern.

    I experienced first hand how frustrating a food desert can be when I lived in a rural town on the east coast for a few years. It took quite a long time to change the eating habits I picked up while living there (none of them good, of course). I’m luckier than most here, as I live within walking distance of many great food options as well as working downtown with the Pike Place Market available to me. I now cook meals for my family instead of picking something up from a drive thru or opening a package.

    Comment by Andi — 9:01 pm March 2, 2014 #

  8. Healthy food is definitely an important community issue, but “food desert” is a bit extreme. Not everyone will live steps away from a grocery store or farmers market but those on south Delridge have QFC, Safeway and even produce at Target. Those in the north aren’t too far from Admiral Safeway. There is a neighborhood garden. Food deserts exist where people cannot access anything other than gas station food and Macdonalds. If you’ve been in a real food desert, you can’t say West Seattle has one. There is decent bussing up and down Delridge to accommodate reaching a grocery store

    Comment by Erin — 9:21 pm March 2, 2014 #

  9. Just a quick google shows a handful of articles talking about Seattle’s food deserts, West Seattle among them:

    http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2013/03/14/speaking-of-food-deserts

    http://www.invw.org/content/duwamish-neighborhoods-are-a-food-desert-in-foodie-seattle

    Even in NYT:
    http://mobile.nytimes.com/blogs/boss/2011/11/01/a-start-up-tries-to-eliminate-food-deserts/

    It isn’t extreme to consider Delridge a food desert. It isn’t extreme to consider anywhere that doesn’t have easy access to healthy foods a food desert. Sure, Delridge is “close” to QFC in Westwood, or not “too far” from Admiral Safeway (really?) but it sure can seem far when you’re on foot or even on the bus, especially if you have to transfer. Carrying groceries on the bus is no big fun, and if you have a big family forget getting anything remotely heavy. Bags of chips and frozen snacks are easier to carry.

    Comment by Andi — 10:42 pm March 2, 2014 #

  10. Also, Betsy: the 21 does not go down Delridge. That bus travels down 35th avenue north and southbound, and terminates at Westwood Village (except the express, which travels the old, pre-cut route through Arbor Heights). You’re thinking of the 120.

    Comment by Andi — 10:48 pm March 2, 2014 #

  11. The fact is that areas without access to healthy food have a life expectancy of up to 20 years less than those neighboring. A study in by Northwestern University (http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=163764) showed an average of 24 years difference and linked it on the availability of healthy food. They found that in the Bay Area, $1250 to the annual income would buy someone an extra year of life. That is just nuts! This is very alarming and of large concern to the City.
    -
    I live in Delridge, rely on Metro and have a young child. It is the most difficult thing to get to a grocery store. I appreciated and use the 50 to get to the Junction, but the bus is not stroller friendly and carrying a 25 pound willful toddler and groceries is impossible. It has driven me to tears and the mini mart. Truth!

    Comment by Amanda — 7:59 am March 3, 2014 #

  12. In fact, the space being built out for the Delridge Grocery will include a classroom space, and there are many involved with planning cooking and food preservation classes for that space.

    Comment by Katie — 8:30 am March 3, 2014 #

  13. Oh, and I meant to say, a huge thanks to WSB for the article and continued coverage.

    Comment by Katie Kadwell — 8:31 am March 3, 2014 #

  14. I am glad to see some action on this problem, and thank goodness for the Delridge Grocery co-op!

    Some time ago WSB published a report that the area would not be a good candidate for a full-size grocer, but I suspect a smaller, full-service grocer such as Pete’s in Eastlake or Ken’s on Phinney/Greenwood would do really well on Delridge.

    Comment by Amber — 11:12 am March 3, 2014 #

  15. The lack of transportation to a nearby grocery is a huge issues. Considering there are multiple groceries all within blocks of each other in other areas of West Seattle, it’s pretty crazy that there are NONE in Delridge. It’s pretty easy to write a comment without really thinking it through and I think that’s what some people are doing on here. Maybe take some time to do a little more research before making snap judgements?

    I know that a lot of work has been put into opening a grocery in Delridge. This is going to be a community based store, with lots of great healthy food options. They have worked very hard and have a lot of support, but could always use more. That is a real investment in community on many levels, including creating jobs. There is also a community teaching garden project happening at the community center, called The Little Red Hen Project.

    Maybe the term ‘food desert’ sounds a little extreme, but when you have to leave your own neighborhood to get anything other than processed “food,” there’s a disparity happening; I’m not even going to get into the systemic economic and racial politics involved, but they should be obvious. Kudos to Delridge community minded people! Great work!!

    Comment by ellenater — 11:13 am March 3, 2014 #

  16. I live in the area, and am looking forward to the Co-op. However I recently inquired about a membership and was told it was $100 per household. That is tremendously expensive, certainly more than many if not most of the families in the area can afford, too much for my tight budget and I don’t even have children. I am a household of one, and it makes zero economic sense for me to buy a membership (the reduced prices would not be enough to make up for the cost). It’s a shame since I know they need to increase their membership numbers in order to be able to open. Hopefully there will be more affordable memberships available in the future.

    Comment by Katrina — 1:10 pm March 3, 2014 #

  17. And let’s not forget that those bus connections have only existed for about a year. Delridge neighbors lobbied for many years to get the 120 to connect to Westwood Village and the 50 running up a steep hill to the Junction. Prior to those changes, the ONLY way to get to a grocery store without a car was Downtown or Burien.

    Comment by Mickymse — 1:53 pm March 3, 2014 #

  18. Anyone who thinks it’s easy, by all means grab the kids and come on down into the Delridge valley some rainy winter’s evening to show us how it’s done.

    Comment by Delridge Denizen — 2:06 pm March 3, 2014 #

  19. First let’s just address the fact that the USDA has termed Delridge a Food Desert according to the most recent survey. This is not a term that was simply adopted by the community:

    http://aconcerneddelridgeneighbor.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/food-desert-maps-21.pdf

    Second, Katrina, anyone can shop at the CoOp, membership, like at PCC, is not required to shop. If you are interested in having input on products then it is advised that you do become a member.

    Thirdly, membership dues are not required all at once, you have the option to pay in increments.

    The purpose of the CoOp is to create AFFORDABLE healthy food. That is the point. The idea is to have an option away from the quickie-mart deep fried, prepackaged “food” available now. I am not wealthy, not by a long shot, and I will shop at a store that will have healthy options to help me thrive, not processed crap that will simply keep me full. I am a citizen of Delridge and I deserve to have an option for my family that does not require a tank of gas and four wheels to get to.

    Comment by JennDowell — 4:09 pm March 3, 2014 #

  20. Ya know, I wasn’t going to chime in because I know that often my perspective is too harsh for most. But I do it anyway because I live in this neighborhood too. After reading Rays comment that smacks of ” affluence” IE gentrification > I’m going to go ahead and post my original thought. It would be helpful if ALL the grocey stores were not congregated in the rich whitey sections of the hood. Some of the rest of us live here too. AND ( string of expliatives) OTHER non white, not snooty rich or even middle class people like real food. Facts are you buy what you have access to. If you only ever have access to crap , than thats all you know how to buy.

    Comment by sophistra-tiki — 4:11 pm March 3, 2014 #

  21. I kinda miss that Food Giant that was next to the Kmart on Delridge. Wonder why they shut down.

    Comment by howdy — 4:55 pm March 3, 2014 #

  22. As a founding member & board member of the Delridge Grocery, It is great to see the City of Seattle paying attention to the issue of food access in our community. WSB, I believe you are using our old website. We are now at http://www.delridgegrocery.coop.

    Katrina and Kristen, Thank you for bringing up your concerns. I might be able to explain it a little better for you and if not, please email us at info@delridgegrocery.coop.
    Delridge Grocery is raising funds towards opening this summer. Member equity is necessary for the startup of this business. Founding members are necessary for the development of our co-op. Both are important. Not everyone can afford to pay $100 at one time, so can pay an initial amount of $25 with 3 more payments over time. Once we have met our initial goals, it will be up to the members and their elected board to decide on a hardship membership option. Payment plans do not require proof of hardship.

    As Jenn Dowell said above, anyone will be able to shop at the store. We will be using a patronage refund system: the more you buy the greater the benefit. Any discounts in the store for members have not been determined yet. This is decided by the members.
    Affordability has been a concern from the beginning. The founding members who are volunteering are your neighbors and need the affordable prices, too. The mission of Delridge Grocery is to provide local, sustainably-grown whole foods to the residents of Delridge at affordable prices. We value the consumer, the environment, the producers of our food, and those who will work in our store. We do not want to undercut any of these values for the lowest price possible, thereby not paying what the food is worth. That is what the community and the founding members have told us. We are working on creative ways to achieve as low prices as possible in respect to the Co-op’s values.

    We are a dedicated group of volunteers and members and need more people to make the store a reality and reflective of the surrounding communities. We need the critics to participate, too. The easiest way to help is by becoming a member, getting your neighbors to join, voting, volunteering and helping to create food access on Delridge.

    and Howdy – I remember that grocery store next to Kmart, too. I grew up right by it. I also remember the grocery store on 35th and Morgan. I think it is sad that things have gotten worse for the east side of West Seattle to access food to cook at home – rather than better. I believe that a food co-op is one way to bring power back into a community.
    Amber – yes, you are right. It will be a smaller, neighborhood grocery store.

    Comment by Ranette — 6:49 pm March 3, 2014 #

  23. That is the first result when you google Delridge Grocery. If it’s not pointing to the correct place, you should either redirect it to your current address or kill it.

    Comment by WSB — 7:38 pm March 3, 2014 #

  24. Mickymse, the #120, and I think even when it was the old #20 have been running up and down Delridge Way to White Center for a long, long time so there was never a need to go all the way to Burien for groceries. WC had a Safeway right next to Bartells, and there have always been the assorted other markets and produce sellers. So it was not just Burien or downtown. A lot of old timers here in Delridge have never wanted anything to do with the West Seattle Junction, let alone downtown and prefer WC and Burien to shop.

    Comment by Del Martini — 4:05 am March 4, 2014 #

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