No grocery store yet for downtown Fort Wayne

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) They’re called food deserts. They’re places in the state that don’t have easy access to grocery stores. Fort Wayne has several of them, and now a senate bill hopes to change that.

In an urban area a food desert is defined as 500 or more people in an area that is more than mile away from a grocery store. That distance goes up to ten miles in rural areas.
Thousands are chosing to live in a food desert. Downtown Fort Wayne is considered one. So, what’s the plan to finally put a grocery store in the heart of the city?

“I get that a lot,” Councilman Geoff Paddock (D-5th) said. “We say be patient.”

Over the last decade residents of downtown Fort Wayne have nearly quadrupled. It’s still not enough to attract a developer to open a grocery store. The number or residents needs to hit 25,000-30,000 for developers to start making those plans.

“Every time we solidify another project downtown whether it’s a business or a housing project whether we’re doing more with recreation like the riverfront development all that is building up to a nice position in the next couple of years as these projects get completed then I think we will really see something attractive,” Paddock said.

Downtown isn’t the only food desert in Fort Wayne.

Community Harvest Food Bank has worked to place food pantries in the urban areas considered food deserts. The issue continues into rural communities too.

Community Harvest covers nine counties in Northeast Indiana. Most are rural, and most have dozens of food deserts.

“What we do is identify food deserts and deliver fresh produce and dairy to the areas where there are food deserts,” Executive Director Carmen Cumberland said.

They’re called farm wagons, and they make more than 80 stops a month.

Like the senate bill, the aim of farm wagons isn’t just to get food to the food deserts, but fresh food. For more on farm wagons click here.