The Loss of an Appetite: Ward 7 and 8

D.C. Hunger Solutions discovered that Ward 7 had only two grocery markets and Ward 8 just has one. Both wards are east of the river and are primarily inhabited by African-Americans.

The highest number of grocery stores was in Ward 6, which has an average of about 82,000 residents.
Photo by Shumilov Ludmila/Unsplash

Wards 7 and 8 have been down when it has come to the number of grocery stores since 2010. Store disparities document significant difference in the nutritional quality of foods purchased by different socioeconomic groups across the United States. In 2016, there were at least 49 grocery stores in D.C., and the average of grocery stores per ward was six, according to DCist. The highest number of grocery stores was in Ward 6, which has an average of about 82,000 residents.

Residents in neighborhoods such as H Street, N.E. and NoMa have ten full serviced supermarkets plus three more under construction. Wards 7 and 8 have the most significant amount of residents according to dchunger.org, but have what the USDA is calling its a "food insecurity” for the community.  While almost 11 percent of D.C. is considered a food desert, the lack of nearby local supermarkets makes it even tougher for residents of Ward 7 and 8 because they have the lowest income levels in the city.

Due to the lack of nearby grocery stores, many residents in wards 7 and 8 have to pay increased transit costs to get to supermarkets. People who do receive government assistance tend to shop in cheaper areas such as Maryland and Virginia where the price of items are more affordable, according to WTOP. Many residents rely on corner store items which risk the uprising of diabetes and obesity, according to diabetes.org.

“I have to travel to the Giant in Ward 5 because the food selection isn’t so good. I have five roommates, and we like to cook family size meals and buy things to last, the Giant around our house does not have anything, and the prices are too high. It’s a lot of families around there that are struggling,” says Sierra Jordan, a resident of Ward 7.

Vincent Gray, council member of Ward 7 has made previous comments to The Washington Post  stating “the decisions are driven by the numbers, groceries will go where they think they can make a profit.” Gray had planned for April to be a new month of developments in Ward 7. He has recently proposed legislation that could add more grocery stores in certain neighborhoods. When asked for comment on the lack of food service provided in wards 7 and 8, Gray did not respond after repeated attempts.

Meanwhile, Ward 8 council member Trayon White has told The Washington City Paper that he has had “productive discussions” with representatives from different grocery chains. He said that he has also secured $300,000 in net year’s budget to help grow alternative food options in Ward 8.

Residents east of the river say they hope within the upcoming year more food options are available to the communities of wards 7 and 8.