New grocery store downtown Lansing puts an end to decades long ‘food desert’

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) Larry Consentino has lived in Lansing for 30 years. In that time, he says there has never been a grocery store downtown.

“There would be little specialty stores like in Old Town where you can go get pickled beets and chocolate and stuff,” says Cosentino, but unfortunately no store with fresh produce available daily.

“People accepted it as the way things were although they’ve often refereed to areas like this as what they call a food desert.”

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a food desert is any neighborhood where 1/3 of households live more than a mile away from a grocery store. Studies show, a lack of nutritious food options nearby is linked to an increase in health issues like obesity and heart disease.

Dr. Scott Haskell says he grew up in a rural food desert, the closest grocery store was an hour away. He now lives in Lansing and is a professor and lead instructor with the institute for food laws and regulations.

“In this case it has nothing to do with income level it has to do with proximity to stores and markets that have adequate nutritious food,” says Haskell.

The decades long food desert is ending tomorrow when the Capital City Market opens on East Michigan Ave. and South Larch St.

“It seemed like something the downtown Lansing community had been lacking for a long time so were just happy to have the market open real soon,” says store director Mitchell Cook.

Dr. Phillip Warsaw is Assistant Professor at the Department of Community Sustainability at Michigan State University and he warns, “One making sure that food is affordable more so than food just being available.”

According to the store director, the Capital City Market’s prices will mirror a Meijer Supercenter and the store has the ability to price match.

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