A new grocery store in Ward 8 opened last week as part of a program to alleviate food deserts in Washington, D.C. neighborhoods.
Good Food Markets (GFM) opened a new location Nov. 13 at 4001 S Capitol St. SW in the Bellevue neighborhood of Ward 8, which has a population of 80,517 people and the lowest median household income in the District. Good Food Markets is only the second grocery store in the entire ward.
The grocery store is part of a larger initiative to end food insecurity in the District and provide healthy food options in all neighborhoods. Through the Neighborhood Prosperity Fund, a program launched by Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) that supports development projects in low-income neighborhoods, the city allocated $880,000 for a grocery store in Ward 8.
Good Food Markets will help alleviate some of the concerns regarding food insecurity in Ward 8 and act as a starting point for the addition of more healthy food options in the area, according to Bowser in a Nov. 13 press statement.
“Today, with the opening of this Good Food Markets, we’re making good on a promise to deliver more grocery stores and food access points to neighborhoods east of the river,” Bowser said in the press statement. “And there’s more on the way — more grocers, more restaurants, more financial support for neighbors with the passion and talent to start their own food businesses.”
Food deserts — geographic areas where the nearest grocery store is over 0.5 miles away and over 40% of households have no vehicle available — make up 11% of the entire District. Ward 8 alone contains 51% of the District’s food deserts. Food insecurity worsened in the District during the COVID-19 pandemic, with 250,000 additional people facing hunger, making it even more difficult for low-income individuals living in food deserts to access meals.
According to Philip Sambol, executive director of Good Food Markets, the company chose the Bellevue neighborhood because of its distance from reliable, healthy and affordable food options.
“GFM’s mission is to improve food access and community health,” Sambol wrote in an email to The Hoya. “When we looked at available locations that were potentially viable from the business perspective, and would be meeting a real need for fresh food, S Capitol was a good fit.”
According to John Falcicchio, deputy mayor for planning and economic development, in the press statement, the projects that result from the Neighborhood Prosperity Fund will help more District residents who are currently facing food insecurity.
“Increasing access to healthy food options east of the river and creating jobs for local residents remain a top priority,” Falcicchio said in the press statement. “Projects such as this exemplify how we continue to collaborate amongst district agencies, developers, and the community to deliver essential amenities, such as Good Food Market, and opportunities for residents to thrive in the District.”
It is not just about having access to food, however, but it is also about providing healthy, fresh and educational options, which Good Food Markets aims to do at their new Ward 8 location, according to Sambol.
“It is our hope that the new GFM location will make it easier for people in Bellevue and Washington Highlands to purchase fresh produce and basic groceries, increasing consumption of fresh food and improving the health of residents,” Sambol wrote. “We also work with a variety of organizations to provide fun and educational events in the community so people can gain new skills for cooking at home and leading an active lifestyle.”
According to Bowser in the press statement, the new Good Food Markets location, as well as the other projects within the Neighborhood Prosperity Fund, will give opportunities to D.C. residents formerly impacted by food insecurity.
“What we’re doing, one project at a time, is giving more Washingtonians the fair shot they deserve,” Bowser said in the press statement.