Fresh Food Options Coming to Prairie View
December 17 – Access to fresh, healthy foods is something many people take for granted. For small, rural, low-income communities like Prairie View, it is often difficult to find a consistent source for nutritious foods. This lack of access has earned the area a classification as a food desert. City of Prairie View Mayor David Allen is hoping that will all change with the addition of the all-new Harvest Natural Market.
The new grocery store and market will bring new opportunities for Prairie View residents and Prairie View A&M University students. Together they have a combined population of more than 16,000 people. Students’ food options are currently limited to nearby fast food restaurants and the on-campus food sources located inside the Memorial Student Center. The closest grocery stores for Prairie View residents and students are in Waller or Hempstead which is an estimated 10 miles round trip. For some, this is not an ideal option. “They can’t conveniently walk, or take a bicycle, or have a very short car ride to get healthy food. That’s why there’s a reach for getting a grocery store here,” said Mayor Allen.
Harvest Natural Market is unique in its own right due to the fresh options the offer. Upon opening, it will provide access to better food, and local farmers and business owners have the opportunity to sell their products in-store. This project is the result of a close partnership between Mayor Allen and the Atlas Group. The company is also the developer for the Panther Hill Apartments which is home to the Harvest Express Grocery store.
During the summer of 2018, Mayor Allen invited community leaders and College of Agriculture and Human Sciences representatives like LaRachelle Smith to tour the brand-new Harvest Natural Market in Katy to get a glimpse of what to expect when the store comes to Prairie View. “It offers fresh produce and different options for grocery store items you don’t see in your typical H.E.B. or Kroger. It’s solely stocked and maintained by local producers. That means community members that are from this area can participate in this cooperative effort and bring all of their local, fresh produce to this one market,” said Smith
Mayor Allen wants this market to be something that brings jobs and economic growth to the community as well. “I want to make sure of two things; It’s not totally dependent on the students and residents because when the students go for break in the summers, it will get a lot less business. The busier they are, the more money they’ll make and the more sales tax that generates for the city. Also, the more jobs they will create because the busier you are, the more employees you’ll need.”
Though the location of the new market is still in discussion, this business will be something great for the Prairie View community. The addition of the grocery store will help Prairie View shed its food desert label and provide residents and students easier access to healthier food options. Mayor Allen expects the new Harvest Natural Market to be open and ready for business between Fall 2019 and Spring 2020.
The contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the USDA or NIFA.