Two New Orleans grocery stores open, thanks to food retail financing

This winter, two new grocery stores will provide New Orleans residents with more healthy food options, thanks to a city government loan program developed based on recommendations from the New Orleans Food Policy Advisory Committee. (Click on the picture above to see photos from both stores.)

On Jan. 17, Circle Food Store reopened after being closed since Hurricane Katrina flooded its historic building in 2005. And on Feb. 4, a new Whole Foods will open just a few miles away in a mixed-used building that shares space with other health- and food-focused businesses and nonprofits. Both stores will be in neighborhoods that have lacked adequate food access.

The recent grocery openings began with Circle Food Store owner Dwayne Boudreaux joining with local elected officials and other key partners to reopen his iconic store after an $8 million renovation. The project included a $1 million loan from the city's Fresh Food Retailer Initiative (FFRI). Dozens of residents, media outlets and a local school's marching band and choir gathered outside the store on St. Barnard Avenue before its opening, eagerly waiting to begin shopping.

"After more than eight years, I'm thrilled that we can open the doors of Circle Food Store to customers again," said Boudreaux, who took over the store in 1991. See Dwayne Boudreaux’s comments at his store opening on the Tulane PRC YouTube channel.

First opened in 1938, Circle Food Store is the city's first African-American owned-and-operated grocery store. The new store will once again serve as an important retail anchor in the Seventh Ward neighborhood, providing fresh food options and creating more than 65 local jobs, according to a news release from the City of New Orleans.

"This is another example of what a successful public, private and non-profit partnership looks like," Mayor Mitch Landrieu said.

The city's other new grocery store is also a unique partnership of nonprofits, businesses, and even schools. Nonprofit Broad Community Connections developed the ReFresh Project, a mixed-use space on Broad Street that will house the new Whole Foods and its 80 or so new employees. The nonprofit also received a $1 million loan from the city's FFRI program. In addition to Whole Foods, the ReFresh building will soon include Liberty's Kitchen's new full service cafe and commercial kitchen, the Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine at Tulane University, a community room and nonprofit offices, like FirstLine Schools. A community garden will be built outside the building. The Tulane Prevention Research Center (PRC) is also a ReFresh partner, supporting its mission and helping monitor its impact.

The new grocery store will have a preview party that is free and open to the public from noon to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 1 (RSVPs for this event should be sent to The store officially opens at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 4, and all Whole Foods stores in the New Orleans area will donate one percent of net sales from that day and the following four days to five local organizations: Providence Community Housing, Edgar "Dooky" Jr. & Leah Chase Family Foundation, Youth Run NOLA, Restore the Bayou Canopy, and The Roots of Music.

"Leading up to the store opening, we've had the pleasure to meet people and organizations in the neighborhood and surrounding area and support many events," said Kristina Bradford, Louisiana community and media relations coordinator for Whole Foods Market, in a news release.

To read more about the two grocery stores in the Trumpet, a New Orleans community magazine, click here.

(Posted January 2014)

(Photos by Tulane PRC Staff)

Topics:   food environment , nutrition , community health , obesity , built environment

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