UPDATE: Since this story ran in September, Carver Neighborhood Market is reporting it's has had its three best months of sales. Deliveries are on the rise as this overlooked neighborhood embraces its own oasis in the food desert.
ATLANTA -- In the shadow of prosperity, not quite close enough to the world of endless choices, billboards encourage people to buy local food, but the only local in historic south Atlanta, is if you grow it yourself.
Walled off by curb, concrete and construction, residents walk blocks to stores with limited processed food options, stores that overflow with lottery tickets, alcohol and cigarettes.
An energetic teenager on a bike is part of an ambitious attempt to do away with the designation of food desert that hangs over this area.
"For our neighbors close by, if they don't have a car, it's about a 3 hour round trip."
Jeff Delp, the director of economic development for Focused Community Strategies, a non profit that helps undeserved communities, has put on his grocer's cap. On this day he helps a woman pick out her food for dinner.
"Have you seen the frozen ones we've got?" he asks her.
Delp says, "We are a neighborhood resource with our eyes on potentially changing the industry."
Carver's Neighborhood Market is a newbie in a world of gorilla grocery stores, who all refused to come.
"They looked at our demos and said we're not going to come here. You don't have enough people we don't make enough money."
Big distributors wouldn't sell to him.
He smiles. "In order for us to get groceries in downtown Atlanta, we have to go thru Opelika, Alabama."
Delp is mastering loopholes and workarounds, making Carver's a tiny grocery rebel. It's worth it. One neighborhood shopper says, "It's changing whole households to be able to get access to fresh foods and meat for their weekly shopping."
It is something people here have never done, go to their neighborhood grocery to buy fresh, local food.
One woman browsing through the aisles says, "Today I just needed to come get some things i need to cook my dinner."
Next door is the bike shop. Delp explains, "We run the South Atlanta Bike Shop which is a youth developmental organization."
Remahn Patterson is one of the teenagers who works here, each earning their way to their own bike. Patters says, "Even when I got my first bike, I just wanted to come back more and more because it was a great experience."
Patterson delivers Carver's groceries to residents who are still astounded by the bounty that now arrives on their doorstep.
It's an oasis in what was a desert , a movement of small, making a big impact.
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