HOUSTON — A Houston pastor is doing what he can to fight unhealthy foods in his low-income neighborhood.
Each month, he hosts a food giveaway that introduces free, healthy foods to anyone who wants to try them.
For many, seeing bok choy or goat milk in their grocery store may not be surprising, but for those in the southwest Houston neighborhood of Hiram Clarke, organic, fresh foods are much harder to find.
This is why Ms. Annie is shopping for her veggies in a church parking lot and not collecting items from stores near her neighborhood.
“I've never seen that before, and it’s here,” Ms. Annie said.
Pastor Brandon Washington looked around his church, the Word of Faith Church, and saw a vast footprint of fast food.
“You can’t find a lot of whole grain. You can’t find a lot of vegan options," Washington said. “Literally right next to Kentucky Fried Chicken, there’s Hart’s Chicken Buffet and then we have Popeyes chicken."
So, with help from Second Servings of Houston, surplus foods from grocery stores are given out the same day and they’re picked up for free.
“If this food wasn’t picked up today, then it would all get thrown away," Marketing Manager of Second Servings of Houston Kristen Torrez said.
Still, neighbors said an actual store could offer more.
"It would be nice if we had a Whole Foods over here on this side of town," Edgar Flores said. “We might be poorer in this neighborhood, but we’re all the same people out here.”
Dr. Michael Lemke with the University of Houston-Downtown said it comes down to a business decision.
“The consumer base to support those institutions isn’t present in those neighborhoods as it is in other areas," Lemke said.
Lemke said new policies, like limiting fast food or offering assistance, would help.
“Maybe offer some sort of subsidies for grocery stores to relocate into those neighborhoods," Lemke said.
Washington is just hoping for some sort of healthy hybrid.
“If they would do a discount store, I think they will show up for it and they’ll purchase," Washington said.
Washington said his next giveaway is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. on March 24 at the Word of Faith Church, located at 3831 W. Fuqua St.