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EBR Councilwoman frustrated with lack of grocery stores in her district

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BATON ROUGE - A shopping trip helped a councilwoman discover something missing in her district.

Tara Wicker says there are not enough stores in North Baton Rouge that sell basic food necessities. She was looking to buy bread, milk and butter Monday afternoon, but it took her an hour to find that in a one-mile radius around where she lives.

“I came so close to just bursting into tears,” said Wicker.

Wicker took to Facebook, sharing her frustrations.

“I went to the Family Dollar on Florida St. and remembered that one was closed. I went to the one of Government, that one was also closed,” said Wicker. “I have to drive out of my neighborhood to Albertson's, or all the way downtown to Matherne's, which, by the way, both of those locations are more than a mile. According to USDA standards, if you live more than a mile from a grocery store, you're in a food desert.”

Wicker eventually found a loaf of bread at V&P Seafood and Deli, after striking out at the Food Mart on Florida Street.

WBRZ stopped by Food Mart Tuesday and they had bread in stock.

“We change bread almost every two days,” said manager Mike Hussein.

Hussein says being one of the only stores that sell loaves of bread, they go fast.

“It’s a lot easier for them to pick up a loaf of bread at 9 p.m. when the stores are closed,” he said.

But for many who live in North Baton Rouge, they'd like to see more options.

“You have to catch the bus and go all the way to Walmart,” said John Lane. “It’s extremely hard for the old, the young, even the ones on bikes like me.”

“I know that people who don't have a car, that frustration and that sense of hopelessness is huge,” said Wicker.

Wicker is looking to create an urban economics summit where people in the community, city administrators and developers can get together and talk about ways to bring more grocery stores to the area.

But seeing how many local stores sell alcohol, she'd like some additional rules.

“We have to have in place that constitutes a grocery store versus a liquor store. Because when you walk in, all of the shelving space, all of the freezer space is liquor. They have to go to the back to get bread,” said Wicker.

The Baton Rouge North Economic Development District told WBRZ they are aware of this problem. They're currently working with the Mayor's Office and BRAC to find the best location for a grocery store in the area.

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