June 19, 2011

Hungry in LeDroit Park

grocery day

Is LeDroit Park a “food desert”?  The phrase refers to a neighborhood where the nearest grocery store is more than a mile away.  First, this metric would classify many of the tony precincts of Bethesda, Potomac, and McLean as “food deserts”.

Despite that, the metric isn’t entirely useless.  Distance does matter greatly to populations who, for whatever reason, do not have cars.  Groceries are heavy, after all.

Even still, WAMU’s recent characterization of LeDroit Park as a food desert is incorrect.  In fact, you can plug in directions from Anna J. Cooper Circle, the neighborhood’s center, to the Giant at 8th and P Streets NW.

The distance?  Under a mile. That’s about 15 minutes by foot.

In fact, if you’d rather take a bus, which we frequently do with groceries, the G2 runs every 30 minutes from LeDroit Park and along P Street.  It passes not only the aforementioned Giant, but also the Whole Foods on the 1400 block of P Street.  If you return in under 2 hours, the round-trip bus cost is $1.50.

This grocery store is slated to close soon so a new Giant, along with housing, can be constructed on the site.  After that happens, the 3-year-old Safeway at 5th and L Streets NW and the 6-month-old Harris Teeter in NoMA will vie for the title as nearest grocery store.  Each is exactly 1 mile away.

Furthermore, once the Howard Town Center project takes flight, it will feature its own grocery store.  The project is about a half-mile from Anna J. Cooper Circle.

So there you have it.  Within 1 mile of LeDroit Park one will find a Giant, a Safeway, and a Harris Teeter.  That hardly qualifies the neighborhood as a food desert.

Categories: Howard Town Center, Local Businesses
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11 Replies

  1. I think the “food desert” characterization of LeDroit Park is quite accurate (at least if you don’t have a bike or car). As far as urban living goes, LeDroit lacks convenient access to any form of grocery store. A half an hour walk to and from Giant just isn’t convenient, and that Giant isn’t all that great.

    If there is anyone with the requisite capital out there, a small-scale grocery market would do very well in this neighborhood (the closed LeDroit Park Market or the vacant commercial spot on the corner of 5th and Florida would be great places for an organic market).

    That’s just my thought on the issue, but I wish I was able to walk to a Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s.

    Michael - June 19, 2011 @ 11:22 pm
  2. I love LDP, lived here for a couple years. grocery shopping is a huge pain.

    jm - June 20, 2011 @ 8:54 am
  3. Agreed. A mile is not that far to walk for groceries. And why has nobody considered Field to City (nee Timor Bodega), which offers produce boxes and seasonal produce a la carte, or the Bloomingdale Farmer’s Market, both of which are a stone’s throw from Cooper Circle. Supplement that with some groceries you can get from Windows Market. It won’t be as cheap as the supermarket, but if walking a mile for groceries is too much, then that’s the price you pay.

    Andrew Siddons - June 20, 2011 @ 9:19 am
  4. Undefined metrics are entirely useless, but you’ll be happy to know that the USDA data on food deserts (defined as low-income census tracts where either a substantial number or share of residents has low access to a supermarket or large grocery store) seem to agree with your assessment, available here: http://www.ers.usda.gov/data/fooddesert/

    But instead of reflexively pushing back against the label of ‘food desert’ can we agree that there is room for improvement in the (limited) food options we have in LeDroit?

    I live 0.6 miles away from the Giant on 8th and P, and if it’s raining, or hot and humid, or if the bus doesn’t arrive on time (I’m lookin at you, G2), or if there are a bunch of sexual harassers hanging out on the street waiting to holler at me, then yes…even half a mile is far.

    Also, have you ever actually bought produce or meat (or worse, fish) at the Giant on 8th and P? Have you waited in the soul-suckingly-slow-moving lines after a long day at work? I look forward to the new (and hopefully improved) Giant that will open in the future, and especially to the Town Center project, as I try to avoid that grocery like the plague that it is.

    While we do have a great farmers market on Sundays, it only lasts May – November; what are our fresh produce options in the winter? Offerings from bodegas, pharmacy chains, or farmers markets do not make up the difference in value, food selection, or seasonal availability.

    MAP - June 20, 2011 @ 11:41 am
  5. just for trivia’s sake, there used to be a safeway in ledroit park.

    t - June 20, 2011 @ 12:41 pm
  6. also, Giant, safeway , harris teeter are Supermarkets, not grocers. they are HUGE. theres a big difference. get to know your local market and offer them suggestions on what to carry.

    t - June 20, 2011 @ 12:48 pm
  7. Ridiculousness is saying that the neighborhood is a food desert because Whole Foods isn’t within walking distance. Privileged much?

    eli - June 20, 2011 @ 6:33 pm
  8. I prefer Trader Joe’s. But haters gonna hate, so…

    MAP - June 20, 2011 @ 10:24 pm
  9. +1 to MAP for this:

    “But instead of reflexively pushing back against the label of ‘food desert’ can we agree that there is room for improvement in the (limited) food options we have in LeDroit?”

    My thoughts exactly.

    The Giant on P is terrible. The new Harris Teeter on 1st NE is great, but watch that they bag all your stuff. I have ended up at home twice missing things. The second time the manager dropped off my missing items at my house. Probably early kinks as I haven’t had issues lately.

    In other news, did you know that the city of Detroit, which is larger geographically than Boston, Manhattan, and San Francisco combined, has no major grocers. That is a food desert.

    dano - June 21, 2011 @ 10:10 am
  10. The produce at windows market is oftentimes really gross.

    quick note - June 22, 2011 @ 5:11 pm
  11. You can’t really expect there to be a grocery store every 0.5 miles. Especially if you live in an enclave of rowhouses…

    Jason - August 1, 2011 @ 3:43 pm

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