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Advisory Group Formed to Tackle Food Desert Solutions

Photo courtesy of MGN

Work is underway to tackle the pervasive problem of food deserts in the core of Lafayette by finding new ways to increase capital investment in disinvested parts of the city.

Posted: Mar 12, 2021 12:59 PM

LAFAYETTE - Work is underway to tackle the pervasive problem of food deserts in the core of Lafayette by finding new ways to increase capital investment in disinvested parts of the city.

An advisory group will start meeting later this month to start coordinating efforts and build on ongoing work. The group is being organized as part of a fellowship with the The Center for Community Investment.

The Center for Community Investment (CCI) awarded the fellowship — as part of that group’s Toward a Just Recovery program — to Community Development Director Hollis Conway, United Way of Acadiana President/CEO Carlee Alm-LaBar, and Lafayette Public Trust Financing Authority Executive Director Kevin Blanchard.

CCI awarded the fellowship to just five groups across the country who were ready to leverage community investment to tackle challenges usually associated with racial inequities and economic marginalization.

There is a growing lack of availability of fresh and nutritious food in many areas of Lafayette — a problem directly related to the legacy of structural racism, discrimination, and disinvestment.

More than half of the population of the City of Lafayette lives in a census tract designated as a “food desert” — meaning residents there don’t have easy access to fresh food. And nearly two-thirds of the residents who live in Lafayette’s food deserts are persons of color.

The advisory group will involve people from all walks of life, many of whom have been actively working on issues of food access. The group will help coordinate and ensure that capital investment is supportive of community efforts. The goal is to drastically reduce the number of residents who lack adequate access to fresh food.

“The LPTFA is interested in how we can best attract capital investment to help improve the lives of the citizens of Lafayette,” Blanchard said. “To do that in the most effective way, we are ready to work with community partners, including neighborhoods, nonprofits, investors, and local government.”

“United Way of Acadiana has been funding programs for years that increase our ‘ALICE families’ access to affordable and healthy foods. We are thrilled to be a part of this opportunity for our community to learn additional ways to address this chronic community need at a systemic level,” said Alm-LaBar.

The advisory group will be asked to take on a big challenge, which will require multiple solutions, Conway said.

“There are a lot of groups doing good work in Lafayette,” Conway said. “Our hope is to provide all the necessary support for each of these groups to find success.”

More more information: https://centerforcommunityinvestment.org/

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