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Louisville will try — again — to end a food desert by attracting a community grocery store

Gemma | Unsplash

Louisville Metro is issuing a new request for proposals for a full-service grocery store in an under-served area, like downtown or the West End.

The city set aside $3.5 million in the summer of 2020 to incentivize a community grocery store with the hope of providing access to healthy, non-processed food options in neighborhoods that lack them, some of which are predominantly Black. That came amid months of racial justice protests following the police killing of Breonna Taylor.

While the bid is not limited to a specific area of the city, a 2017 report from the city’s Center for Health Equity found that neighborhoods just west of downtown, like Russell and California, have the highest concentration of people without access to a vehicle who also live more than a mile from a grocer.

The request for proposals will give preference to a potential local operator. One of the many requirements is for the operator to have control over the site of their proposed grocery store by May. 

Louisville Metro previously awarded a bid to the nonprofit Louisville Association for Community Economics, which created the Louisville Community Grocery co-op. But talks between the city and community group broke down earlier this year.

On January 10, the Louisville Association for Community Economics’ lawyer received a letter from the Jefferson County Attorney saying the group failed to “meet key deadlines” set in the Letter of Intent it signed with the city. The letter also claimed the group missed the deadline for having control of the property where they planned to create the grocery store.

In an op-ed published in the Courier-Journal later that month, the Association accused the city of undermining their proposal “every step of the way.”

Louisville Metro is now trying, again, to incentivize a business to open a full-service grocery store in an area that needs it. The city will accept proposals online until April 8.

Roberto Roldan is the City Politics and Government Reporter for WFPL. Email Roberto at rroldan@lpm.org.

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