The federal government says about 20% of the Indianapolis population—face food insecurity, meaning that they have limited or uncertain access to adequate food. Food access is a pervasive problem in the Marion County community, and numerous nonprofit organizations have stepped up to help alleviate this problem like the Flanner House.
The 100+ year old nonprofit, held a grand opening for a new corner grocery store Thursday afternoon. The store, Cleo’s Bodega, named after former Flanner House Executive Director Cleo Blackburn, was funded through a $400,000 Department of Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grant and took more than two years to complete. The new store is located right in front of the Flanner House community center on Martin Luther King Jr. Street. The goal is to help some of the 200,000+ people in the area who live in the largest food desert in the city.
According to census data collected by Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, almost 50% of the people within a mile of Flanner House accept food stamps. There are no grocery stores, supermarkets or farmers markets within the area and according to Cosby, there is no expectation of a big-box grocery store opening anytime soon.
The bodega will employ people from surrounding neighborhoods, and provide fruit, vegetables from its own garden, pre-packaged goods, smoothies, and coffee, as well as a meeting space for the community.