Local organization targets north Minneapolis food desert with new plan

Addressing the north Minneapolis food desert

Addressing the north Minneapolis food desert

A Minneapolis organization is aiming to address the growing food desert crisis on the Northside by planning to build a $16.5 million commercial kitchen and food incubator.

The Northside Economic Opportunity Network (NEON) leaders say the new effort will benefit the community in several ways.

Driving down West Broadway Avenue in north Minneapolis, it’s a fast food frenzy.

“Fried chicken, fried foods and a lack of access to actual greens,” KB Brown, a north Minneapolis business owner, said.

Some residents like Brown are forced to leave the area for healthy options but not everyone has a choice.

According to NEON, only 23% of people who live on the Northside have the means to jump in a car and leave.

“My mother lives up the street, so when she wants to go grocery shopping, she has to call me,” Brown said.

When Brown grew up, he said there were three grocery stores to choose from on the Northside; now, there’s only one.

In February, Aldi closed its doors, giving residents fewer options to find affordable food that’s healthy.

“We’re tired of having to go outside of North Minneapolis for things because we should have everything we need right here,” Brown said.

NEON is planning to open a $16.5 million commercial kitchen and food incubator near West Broadway and North Penn Avenue to address the problem.

“The problem is that we have a food desert here so we want to at least contribute to providing healthy foods,” Warren McLean, NEON’s president, said. “It’ll create about 265 jobs so it’ll be a huge engine. It’ll be catalytic for North Minneapolis. We’re excited about that.”

Entrepreneurs will use the space to make food and get their business off the ground and residents can buy some of the freshly made, healthy options.

“The goal is to solve a problem, inspire the community and build wealth,” McLean said.

“We’re more than just gun violence and Narcan and all the other stuff. We’re a community of people that want to live a life,” Brown said.

McLean explained that he’s hoping to get financial support from the legislature this session to make the plan a reality.

The goal is to break ground this October.