New Kids on the Block – Analyzing Local Neighborhood Food Environments

Food Environment of the Weinland Park Community

New Kids on the Block

crp blog4 The area of the food environment study is the space shown above. Throughout the area, there a couple busy one-way streets, some small roads, and worn-out alley ways. There are adequate bus stops along the main roads, however those living further away from the roads would have to walk a bit to a stop. This could be dangerous at night, as lighting is scattered and only on one side of the busier streets. Alley ways and small roads have no lights at all.


There is only one clear source of food in this range and it is 4th Street Farms. Here families can access healthy foods as they need. This food source alone, is not enough for the people living in this area. There is a Kroger grocery store located a few blocks West, but it is a 10 minute walk, and an even longer bus commute, at 11 minutes. A 10 minute walk may not seem too long, but when you are carrying groceries, it makes it difficult to get all the items you need, especially heavy ones such as milk. These several blocks would qualify as a food desert. Residents have access to a few healthy options, but realistically there is not a food source that can supply an acceptable selection, as well as, efficient means to travel there.

From a planning perspective, in order to improve the foodways of the neighborhood, a small corner store at the South-West corner of North 4th and East 8th avenue would be beneficial because it can supply food basics such as bread, milk, eggs, cheese, etc. This would help because then residents won’t have to go to Kroger just for a couple items, instead they can just quickly drop by and get what they need.   crpblog4

Other options to improve the access to food for residents is the enhancement of existing bus systems, to have more efficient routes to and from the Kroger nearby. This way people pick up all the groceries they’ll need, without worrying about carrying it back home.


The development of a new food source, and transportation to an existing source would improve the lives of residents of the neighborhood and help diminish the food desert.

The Diamond Developers: Assignment 4 – Local Neighborhoods and Food Environment


Sidewalks, lighting, traffic, transportation, and safety:

      We analyzed the portion of Weinland Park bound by E. 11th Ave to the north, N. Grant Ave to the east, E. 8th Ave to the south, and N. 4th Street to the west. This neighborhood is well equipped with sidewalks (although uneven and needing replaced at times) and is in a traditional street grid pattern which makes navigating throughout easy. However, the lighting in the area is not the best with there sometimes being larger than average gaps in the light posts. This can be a serious issue for people at night especially making them feel uneasy about going out to the grocery store or local community garden due to the area’s crime rate which is slightly higher than the average rate for the city as a whole. Feeling safe going to the grocery store or local farmers market is an important part of a neighborhood’s food security so this is something that needs to be addressed. Also, along the lines of safety, this neighborhood’s closest full service grocery store is 6 blocks away at the closest point and 11 blocks away at the farthest point. In between the grocery store (Kroger at High and 7th), are two very wide, busy, and dangerous one ways with few crosswalks available for safe crossings. Not only is 6-11 blocks a far walk especially for the disabled, elderly, and young families with children, but the unsafe conditions make the trip even more so unpleasant and even impossible for some. There is a busline close to this portion of the neighborhood, however, it simply parallels the high street corridor and does not really get residents any closer to the store.


How and where families access healthy food?

      Families in this portion of the neighborhood, just like most of Weinland Park, primarily use the Kroger at High St. and 7th Ave. As stated above, there is a bus line in the neighborhood but it does little to get residents closer to the store. Also, this being a lower income area, many people do not have cars, therefore, walking is the main mode of transportation for many.


Would the residents consider the area ‘food insecure’ with lack of large grocery stores? Or is it food secure?

Residents of the area have to walk to their local Krogers to purchase goods to make meals. Krogers sells vast varieties of item to suit the needs of local consumers. While there are also many small ‘mom and pop’ shops, the residents of Weinland Park, and specifically this section, live in a ‘food insecure’ area. The small convenience stores have very small (if any) nutritious food in their stores. The only supplier of nutritious fruit, vegetable, and meat would be Krogers. This is an issue for the residents of Weinland Park. Residents need more food sources to best fit their needs.


Is the neighbourhood a ‘food swamp’ or ‘food desert’?

      This section of Weinland Park is mostly a ‘food desert.’ There are very few restaurants or grocery establishments nearby.  In the vicinity of Weinland park there are not many fresh food options.


What do you think can be done, if anything, to improve the foodways of that neighborhood and why?

The best way to improve the foodways of the neighbourhood would be building new and inspected groceries stores around the area, where those families could have easily access to healthy and secure foods. However, what should be a simple project become a real challenge if we relate it to the system that we live in. Supporting ideas like this is almost an illusion because although it would be beneficial for the society it cannot give as many profits to the private sector, those who control the market, as the current food problems can.

An alternative way to resolve this problem can be local projects of small and local spaces where those local farmers can use to serve healthy food to the neighbourhood. It is true that it cannot be able to serve all the people, but certainly it would be the begging for a new and healthy future for them. Moreover, it can also increase the local economy and maybe even make the private sector re-think their projects and ways of selling foods. As an example, we have a project of an outdoor local market to be located on east of Grant Avenue (in the map), which would be easily accessible by the neighbourhood.


People cannot wait forever for the authorities to resolve a problem, especially social ones. Everyone can start to change the world’s reality. All we need is motivation and hard work. What seems to be a change only to a neighbourhood, soon or later, will be the change of a city.

Assignment 4- Analyzing Local Neighborhood Food Environments – Urban Avengers

Accessing Organic, Healthy Food in Weinland Park

The food environment of Weinland Park is in desperate need of improvement.  This area is a borderline food desert with local access to healthy food being extremely limited.  The saving grace of this unfortunate situation is the neighborhood Kroger on North High Street.  This Kroger is a fabulous and financially successful store, with an abundance of healthy food for purchase.  However, the greatest problem for the Weinland Park community is ease of access.  If every resident in Weinland Park owned a car, then getting to the Kroger would be simple and convenient.  However, many residents do not own vehicles and need to walk.  This can be especially burdensome if the resident is disabled, in poor health, or of significant age.  This also would be problematic in the winter due to the obvious – slippery sidewalks.  There is also the dilemma of transporting the purchased groceries home when on foot.  Even for those residents who can utilize public transportation (such as the COTA bus), there is still an issue of travel distance as the Kroger lies on the most western border of the Weinland Park district boundary.


kroger   bus station

The Community Speaks:

The Urban Avengers conducted interviews in the Weinland Park district regarding local food access.

  • Ervin, a 54-year old male who lives in Weinland Park (but did not disclose his address) was observed walking to the Kroger with the aid of a walker. Ervin visits Kroger at least 3 times per week (always by walking).  He makes numerous trips because he purchases small amounts of groceries per visit due to the issue of carrying them home while using his walker.  He does feel the effects of limited access.
  • Eighty-year old “Bliss”, a male residing alone on 9th Avenue, near Grant Ave. does all of his own food shopping at the Kroger on High Street.  He drives himself to the Kroger and feels satisfied with the access at this time.  He noted to us that of course, should he become unable to drive himself, access will become a problem.

Local Markets In Place in Weinland Park:

The Urban Avengers conducted a location research survey in the Weinland Park area and located six local convenience type stores.

  • Natalia’s on Summit Street at E. 6th – this corner store is not an option for healthy food access.  Natalia’s has a very large selection of beer, cigarettes, candy and snack foods (chips, cookies, etc.)  There was one small freezer near the cash register containing a hodgepodge of frozen foods which were a variety known to be sold at Aldi grocery stores.  It seemed obvious that the owner had purchased these frozen foods at Aldi and was reselling them at a mark-up.
  • East Village on Chittenden near 4th Street – this store is fairly new and seems to cater largely to the OSU campus crowd.  The focus of this store is beer and snack type foods.
  • North 4th Fish n Chips and Carry Out (at 4th and 11th).  This store was not entered by anyone in the group but an assumption is made that they do in fact, make and sell fried fish and French fries.  The additional assumption is that there would also be the sale of beer, cigarettes and junk food.
  • Star Carry Out at 1565 North  4th Street near Chittenden.  This store did not appear to be open on Sunday, the day of our neighborhood survey.

IMG_8322IMG_8313  IMG_8312

IMG_8321 IMG_8316IMG_8320


Additionally, there are two Marathon gas station/convenience stores located within one block of each other on Summit Street (one at the corner of Summit and Chittenden and the other at the corner of Summit and 11th Avenue).  Both are owned by the same Sudanese family.  One of the owners spoke to us stating that the logic of owning two locations so close in proximity is that you “hit traffic going in both directions, due to the one way streets.”  When asked if they carried, in either location, any healthy food, the owner laughed and asked “Where in America do you see healthy food??  You must grow healthy food from the ground up.”  Indeed, kind Sir, indeed.


Marathon 1IMG_8319Marathon corner

In addition to the lack of healthy food alternatives, the basic fundamentals of the environment also contribute to the access problems.  This area is known to be high crime and the carry out/markets throughout the district are protected with massive steel bars which demonstrates the lack of safety and trust felt by the storeowners.  This invokes fear in the residents (and visitors) to even step inside – not exactly the place for women or children to feel secure stopping in for a gallon of milk.  The traffic is extremely busy on the main thoroughfares – Summit Street, 4th Street,  11th Avenue and 5th Avenue.  The traffic issue also plays a role in access to the 4th Street Farm due to the volume and high speed of vehicles on 4th Street – the danger in crossing the street is not conducive to the children and families living on the opposite side of 4th Street.  Pedestrian safety is of great concern in these high volume traffic areas.


How Does Your Garden Grow?. . .

The beginning of our journey began at the 4th Street Farm, which according to its founder, Woody, was started approximately 4 years ago.  The concept is a great one, and Woody’s passion is evident.  It is uncertain as to the actual involvement of the community as the organic food growing areas did seem a bit neglected.  And if the people aren’t coming in, then the produce is likely not going out, therefore unfortunately, the fresh produce is being wasted.

That same concern is felt for the other two community gardens we located –  Indianola Community Garden on Indianola at Euclid Avenue and also the Arawak Community Garden located just a block or two from the 4th Street Farm, also on 4th Street.  Both of these gardens also appeared neglected and therefore, not truly benefiting community members with FREE healthy eating options.

Neither of the two gentleman interviewed (remember Bliss and Ervin?) even knew about the community gardens, or that they are welcome to enjoy the fruit and produce as a community member!

IMG_8334 IMG_8346


to farm

Where Do We Go From Here?

The Urban Avengers feel that the Weinland Park Community Civic Association is definitely on the right track with not only the implementation of the local community gardens, but also the structure already in place with several civic committees to assist in addressing these issues.  Resident-led committees such as the Food and Wellness Committee, the Land Use and Business Development Committee, as well as the Safety and Mobility Committee.  Kudos to the WPCCA for caring about its residents and taking strides to improve their quality of life!

The Urban Avengers, in that same framework of community importance, would like to make the following recommendations to the WPCCA for a healthier community:

Grab the attention of your district’s youth and make it fun for them to be involved in the community gardens!  Statistics show that if a child actually grows a food themselves, they are more likely to enjoy eating it.


One way to gain involvement would be to invite the “Sol Food Mobile Farm” to Weinland Park.  On the PBS television show, “Growing a Greener Garden”, Episode 325 featured the “Sol Food Mobile Farm.”  Four young professionals  who grew up together in Durham, North Carolina began the Sol Food Mobile Farm in 2012 and are traveling across the United States (in an old school bus transformed into a mobile, self-sufficient farm where they also sleep and eat) to visit community farms, educate and inform the community (focusing on children) on the benefits of having a community garden.  Please visit the provided link to learn more about Sol Food and how to request a visit:

Another recommendation is to place an alternate grocery store on the “other side” of Weinland Park.  Our idea specifically calls for placement of an Aldi Grocery Store on either the northwest corner of 5th Avenue and Summit Street or 5th Avenue and 4th Street.  There are currently abandoned buildings and/or vacant lots at both locations that could become part of a gentrification project to further revitalize the Weinland Park area.  Either site could be demolished and turned into a successful, easily accessible, affordable grocery alternative.  Aldi Stores are extremely affordable and are known for their affordable and desirable produce sections.  While there is currently an Aldi Grocery approximately three miles away at Silver Driver and I-71 – that location largely serves the Linden area, and is still not easily accessible to the Weinland Park residents.


Corner of 5th and 4th (Beer Barn)

Corner of 5th Avenue and 4th Street

Aldi-StoresPicture 240


Corner of 5th and Summit

Corner of 5th and Summit St

The Weinland Park community is full of life-long residents as well as new families and young professionals.  The area has seen tremendous growth in the past few years and the outlook for continued growth is most certain.  In the essence of continuing to serve your community with healthier alternatives, please consider the recommendations given by the Urban Avengers.  We thank you for allowing us to explore your neighborhood!