Corner store partners with nonprofit, providing healthy food options in food desert
BATON ROUGE - A local business owner has partnered with a south Louisiana nonprofit to offer healthy food options to his customers.
When Khaliel Kinchen and his family opened Scenic Market in June, they were already invested in the community.
"We're from the neighborhood, we're from the area, we knew what it needed," said Kinchen. "This used to be a store before I was born and we just brought it back."
Everything on the shelves at the corner store along Scenic Highway was hand-selected. In addition to the snacks and drinks, Kinchen wanted to provide something else. His family has partnered with the nonprofit Top Box Foods to provide healthy food options to his customers.
He says that many of them don't have access to fresh food.
"A lot of the people around here don't have vehicles," said Kinchen. "A lot of them are 50+ and they walk. They can't get to the Dollar Store which is three miles, they can't get to Walmart, so that was a necessity."
It's an initiative under the Mayor's Office and HealthyBR. Top Box Foods is based out of New Orleans and delivers fresh, affordable foods to nine Baton Rouge businesses weekly. The majority of its business is home deliveries and includes items like fresh produce, meat, and seafood.
Kinchen says those fresh food items are something the area needs.
"A lot of stores don't have fruits and vegetables," he said. "A lot of stores don't have frozen food, a lot of stores just cigarettes and beer. We have everything - a full grocery store."
Earlier this week, 2 On Your Side visited a community farm at the old Howell Park Golf Course. Some of the food grown there is boxed up and purchased by Top Box Foods.
Executive Director of HealthyBR Jared Hymowitz says community farms are where it all begins. That produce is distributed to businesses like Scenic Market.
"This is meeting people where they are, providing them an option for something healthy or maybe to pick up something quick," said Hymowitz.
The produce at Scenic Market and other Baton Rouge businesses that partner with Top Box Foods can be bought with SNAP, EPT, debit, or credit.
Since HealthyBR started three years ago, it's helped to distribute over 220,000 lbs. of food.
"It really is a huge impact in creating access for people who may not or do have access but want to make a choice and buy local," said Hymowitz.
Businesses interested in partnering with Top Box Foods can contact HealthyBR here.
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