There are significant barriers towards growing food access in the North End, many of which stem from the histories of economic and racial segregation that are discussed in other sections of this document. Due to the economic realities that some North End residents face combined with the low margins of the grocery business, it would be difficult for a traditional for-profit neighborhood grocer to be able to successfully establish a location in the North End.
Many residents identified significant barriers for growing access to fresh and healthy food options within the North End that extended beyond simple access and availability. Out of all of the responses to the question regarding barriers to access, the three largest barriers to fresh and healthy food access in the North End involved the cost, the time to prepare it, and the transportation get to it.
“What are the barriers to purchasing healthy, fresh food in the North Limestone neighborhood? ”
The largest reported barrier to purchasing fresh and healthy food in the North Limestone Neighborhood / North End was economic. Community members noted that the high price of fresh and healthy food, in tandem with the economic constraints of limited income, make the prospect of increased access very difficult. This is, more than likely, the reason that alternative economic models were frequently brought up when discussing how to improve food access.
Bluegrass Double Dollars, a pilot project of Bluegrass Farm to Table, is designed to make healthy, local produce more readily available to SNAP users in the Lexington area by doubling the purchasing power (up to $10 per transaction) of SNAP participants to be used toward local produce at locations throughout Lexington.
One user of the Bluegrass Double Dollars program is the Castlewood Fresh Stop Market CSA. Its cooperative economic model is a prime example of a grassroots food justice effort that provides equitable access to residents of all types. Their tiered pricing model - a share costs $6 for WIC recipients, $12 for SNAP recipients, and $25 for everyone else - allows for community members at all economic levels to purchase local produce. Castlewood CSA runs from June through October.
For many, locating, purchasing and preparing healthy food is challenging, and consuming more time to do so, especially when fast food is more readily and quickly available. Many stores in the area don’t even offer adequate healthy food options alongside “fast food” options.
Transportation also proved to be a barrier. For residents that relied on public transportation, the difficulties of using LexTran’s hub-based transit system made traveling with bags of groceries very difficult. For many, the Kroger’s on Bryan Station and Sav-A-Lot on North Broadway were just far enough away to be inconvenient, especially those working multiple jobs or those with large families to feed.