Weinland Park’s food environment is deceiving; although it looks like there are several places to access food, the neighborhood is actually a food swamp and, an area where unhealthy and fast foods are more readily available than healthy grocery foods. While there is a Kroger grocery store located in the south west section of the neighborhood (near the Short North district), the northeast section only has Sam’s East Village Market and a couple other small convenience stores where unhealthy foods are readily available, creating a food insecure neighborhood. In order to get anything healthy, residents must travel to Kroger or the 4th Street Farms community garden.
Weinland Park’s current status as a livable neighborhood and community must be taken into account when looking at overall food accessibility. Sidewalks are narrow and overgrown with plants, a lack of crosswalks makes it difficult to cross the highway-like N 4th and Summit Streets where vehicles drive at very high speeds, and street lamps only illuminate one side of the road at night. These factors make it challenging to walk to the grocery store, causing food to be less accessible to neighborhood residents. The time and distance to walk to Kroger also makes it difficult. For example, if a resident lived near the intersection of E 11th and N Grant, the walk to Kroger would be almost a mile, or around 17 minutes of walking for an able-bodied adult. We also must consider other elements such as brutal winters, carrying a load of groceries back home, and taking along children, which could be considered dangerous with the amount of traffic. Kroger is also a bit more expensive than other grocery stores, while Weinland Park is statistically a lower income neighborhood with low health and high crime.
Despite the challenges residents face when trying to access a grocery store, the neighborhood has decent walkability rankings. WalkScore rated its walkability, transit, and biking with scores of 84, 55, and 67, respectively. While this is a good foundation for Weinland Park, there are some aspects that could improve the scores significantly. From a planning perspective, more street lighting, crosswalks, and perhaps an ordinance that ensures street plants are cut back could all help to make the walk to the grocery store an easier and safer one. Local government can take control by planning more farmers’ markets and petitioning for more public transit throughout the neighborhood to help improve the transit score of the area as well. In terms of private food businesses, encouraging the start up of a local bodega could create a positive addition to the neighborhood and provide another source of healthy food options.