Qualitative Survey Results

The survey also asked respondents the following question: “What would you like to change about food access in Lincoln Park/West End?” Of the 375 returned surveys, 158 (an astounding 42%) included written comments. This was a very high response rate, especially considering that residents did not know a great deal of information about who was administering the survey, who would read the survey, and if their comments would be taken seriously. Respondents’ comments included descriptions of the problems they faced personally with getting groceries as well as the difficulties they saw their neighbors facing. Five themes stood out in the types of comments collected in the surveys (see Figure 30). Residents wanted: 1) a store in the Lincoln Park/West End neighborhood; 2) improved access to affordable food; 3) a small corner store; 4) increased access to high quality foods; and 5) a large store, like a Super One or Cub Foods, located closer to their neighborhood.

Figure 30: What Residents Would Like to Change about Food Access in Lincoln Park
A closer store/not specific
A closer store/large like Super One or Cub Foods
Improve access to affordable food
A closer store/corner store
Improve access to higher quality and diverse food items

A Closer Grocery Store
The most common comment among respondents was that Lincoln Park/West End needed a closer grocery store. Another frequent comment noted the difficulties people experienced when traveling to a grocery store and the high costs and limited selection available at the local convenience stores. These comments speak to the importance of a shopping venue in the neighborhood and of the real added convenience of a neighborhood store. Four comments below, taken from the surveys, underscore this issue.

“A small grocery store with staples that are reasonable priced would be great. With Grand Ave so busy whenever the freeway is being worked on it can take 1 1/2 hours just to go to the store for milk and bread.”
“I just had to write to tell you about what I have see over the last few years. I watch summer and winter on Grand Ave the increase in people, mothers with children, handicapped men and women walking by my house carrying Super One bags of groceries the many miles back to their homes. I have cried many times watching them struggle in the snow and rain, yet I have been too afraid to offer a ride to them. I pray a grocery store with reasonable prices could be opened for the people of Lincoln Park.”
“No grocery stores in Lincoln Park. Need to go to Central Ave or the mall area to get groceries (bona fide grocery shopping, not fill it items at the convenience store) the convenience stores are great but very pricey.”
“It would be great to have a grocery store here. There are many low-income families here with limited transportation. Only expensive convenience stores without healthy food choices.”
A Closer Store/ Large (like Super One, Cub Foods, Trader Joes, Whole Foods Co-op)
Another comment common to many responses was that people would like a full-service grocery store, like Super One or Cub Foods, so that they could do all of their grocery shopping within the Lincoln Park/West End neighborhood. According to respondents, a large grocery store would solve many of the food access problems residents of Lincoln Park/West End face. A local store would offer choice, affordability and convenience all in one. The five comments below, taken from the surveys, represent these concerns:

“I would love to have a Whole Foods Co-op in the area, a branch of Super One or Save-A-Lot. More grocery stores and a farmers market in the close area.”
“Lincoln Park/West End needs a grocery store like Cub or Super One with coupons and sales – too many people pay inflated prices often at Little Store.”
“[It] Would be nice to have a major grocery store in the neighborhood that had comparable prices to the big chain stores. A Ruby's Food Pantry would be nice. People could sign up for orders and volunteers could deliver to those who don't have transportation.”
“A major food chain store in West End area-NOW...it's either up over the hill or West Duluth area.”
“[I] Would Like a Whole Foods or Super One or Cub in Lincoln Park”
Improve Access to Affordable Food
Another frequent comment was that the food currently available in Lincoln Park/West End is unaffordable. These comments support our findings that prices at existing grocery outlets in the community are too high. For low-income people, these prices are especially problematic because people who shop at convenience stores are overpaying for food that is of low nutritional value. Respondents’ comments also underscore the fact that there is unmet demand in the community and that people are already shopping in the neighborhood and will continue to do so if there are more reasonably priced options. Below are six comments, taken from the surveys, representing these concerns:

“We need an affordable grocery store, $4 for Saltines at gas station is crazy.”
“It would be great to have a grocery store here. There are many low-income families here with limited transportation. Only expensive convenience stores without healthy food choices.”
“I would LOVE a decent grocery store within walking distance! (Without gas station prices!)”
“There aren't any grocery stores in what I consider the Lincoln Park area. Convenience stores yes that have limited items and are costly.”
“A nice store with fair prices would be great (not Save-A-Lot type - poor quality).”
“Would be nice to have a store close to home w/reasonable prices.”
A Closer Store/ Like a Corner Store
Another response found throughout the surveys was a desire for a small corner store. While we tend to think of food deserts as neighborhoods without large full-service grocery stores, many of our respondents saw the need for a small corner store within convenient walking distance of their homes. This type of store would be accessible to people who do not have cars and would benefit individuals who do not want to travel long distances for basic food items like bread and milk. Many respondents also noted that this type of store would be a "community location” where people would do more than simply buy groceries. It would be a meeting place for the neighborhood and a place where residents could get to know their neighbors. A small neighborhood store could improve residents’ quality of life, while at the same time improving their access to groceries.  The six comments below, taken from the surveys, represent these concerns.

“Small Market w/good prices with just healthier foods. Fresh fruit, meat, pastas. Just meal making foods. Minimal processed/pre-packaged.
 “A small grocery store with possibly a deli, fresh fruits and vegetables. Like the old neighborhood corner store.”
“I would like to see a neighborhood state that would carry basic necessities so I would have to drive to the store for 2 items.”
“Community grocery store in the area-walking distance and affordable.”
“I would take a neighborhood market with fresh produce, meat & dairy.”
“Corner grocery store would help.”
Improve Access to High Quality and Diverse Food Items
Improved access to high quality food was another common response to our survey. While the stereotype exists that poor people choose to eat unhealthy food and are, therefore, satisfied with their existing shopping options, this survey found that some Lincoln Park/West End residents were interested in improving their access to healthy, higher quality, and more diverse food options. An important element of food security is the ability to eat the type of food that you want to eat and not feel forced to eat food that you do not desire. Considering the limited selection of food options currently available in the Lincoln Park/West End community, community members who are unable to travel outside of the community for food do not have the ability to decide their own diet. Instead, circumstances force them to eat only the food that is available to them. Four comments below, taken from the surveys, underscore this problem.

“More fresh herbs and spices”
“A local store that says “community” and is affordable and healthy.”
“I would like to see a better variety of foods when I have money fresh and organic are preferred but expensive. It’s hard to keep away from the appeal of cheap junk food.”
“Food sources in Lincoln Park are aimed almost exclusively for poor people. A glutton of fast food and the limited selection of healthy food at Super One in Spirit Valley supply cheap processed food heavily dependent on sugar, fat, and salt. This along with little exercise only help cause obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. This neighborhood has no alternative for fresh veggies, fruit, or meat. We normally have to go to Cub foods or the Whole Foods Co-op.”