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“There are no grocery stores:” Alderman introduces measure to combat so-called ‘food deserts’

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MILWAUKEE -- Many neighborhoods in Milwaukee are in desperate need of viable grocery stores. There's an effort to combat the problem of "food deserts" -- which city officials say has become an issue of humanity.

"In different neighborhoods in the city, there are no grocery stores," Patricia Bridges said.


Some areas have been designated "food deserts," which includes any rural or urban area that's 10 miles away from an affordable or healthy food option.

Alderman Khalif Rainey recently sponsored a proposal to change that.

"I called on the City of Milwaukee Department of City Development to engage with local retailers -- those being Whole Foods, Kroger`s, Meijer to determine what exactly an incentivized package looks like. What do those financing and zoning efforts look like?" Rainey said.

Grocery store

It seems many are relying on seasonal farmers markets for their fruits and vegetables, and some feel healthy foods need to be available on a regular basis in the city.

"If you don`t have affordable, healthy food at your disposal, the first thing you are going to do is go to the corner store, go to the gas station, buy a bag of chips or soda. Here in Wisconsin, we have the largest obese adult population in America. A lot of that is related to dietary issues. The by-product is food deserts," Rainey said.

Khalif Rainey

Khalif Rainey

Some are extremely thankful for Rainey's proposal.

"I think the alderman is right on point," one resident said.


"I think this is a very forward thinking initiative and this may very well be a reason Milwaukee becomes a healthier city," Rainey said.

The Milwaukee Common Council voted to move forward with the measure -- to look at ways to combat the problem.

A report will be handed over in 120 days, which will include a strategy for affordable, healthy options.



  • MoreWastedGov$

    It’s no surprise that there are no hard working business owners who want to risk their investment and lives to open a business in these neighborhoods. You couldn’t pay me enough to try and operate a profitable business when dealing with constant threat of armed robbery, break ins, shoplifting and lack of a qualified hard working, reliable employee base.

  • Paul

    I wouldn’t open a store in these places. The insurance alone would be astronomical. And where did the alderman get his statistics stating that Wisconsin is the most obese state in the country? The only way I open a store is if Mayor McTrolley foots the cost to build it, protect it and insure it.

  • Sue Weed

    Government attempting to legislate where businesses operate, ridiculous! If an area doesn’t provide sufficient business to be profitable no business person will establish in that area. Only government subsidized businesses have the ability to survive in business deserts, just look at the pockets of vacant deserted wastelands filled with decaying properties/businesses that exist in many cities. Perhaps the Alderman needs to propose a government subsidized grocery that is funded by the city and staffed by the unemployed of the area, perhaps a co-op type of grocery where they work so many hours per week in exchange for food to help offset the cost to the city.

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