INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Aug. 2, 2015)--When buses arrived in the ANWAR neighborhood Saturday to take residents grocery shopping several miles away, only two women were waiting for a ride.
"The answer is to do something with this location," said William Brookins as he stood in the parking lot of the shuttered Double 8 food store at the corner of 29th Street and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Street. "Buses, it just makes a greater commute. It just makes a bigger issue, whereas, do something with this location is a more centralized answer."
Ever since the Double 8 chain closed its doors across Indianapolis last month, the city's reputation as a "food desert" has grown more barren.
Walkscore.com lists Indianapolis as the worst major city in the United States with only five percent of its population living within a five minute walk to a full service gorcery store.
Sources told FOX59 News that talks are underway between neighborhood leaders, Mayor Ballard's office and the owner of the Double 8 chain to explore turning the empty stores into non-profit food co-operatives or inviting a large grocery retailer to take over the locations.
"What is needed is, people are hungry and need the convenience of a grocery store in this community," said David Smith of Christ Missionary Baptist Church who recalled shopping at his local store in 1966. "People who become hungry and need grocery facilities cannot eat history but it can help be a part of reviving a community of a need."
Joe Hogsett, democrat candidate for mayor, said, "The loss of these stores put Indianapolis families at risk," while pledging to work with state, federal and local leaders to explore bringing more food options to the city.
Chuck Brewer, the republican candidate, favors capturing tax dollars generated by the stores and earmarking them for neighborhood improvements.
"We can create the kind of environment in the city through economic incentives to invite retailers grocery retailers into these neighborhoods that need it the most."
Residents who find themselves hungry at the intersection of 29th & MLK can visit a gas station convenience store on the corner for chips, ice cream and soft drinks or walk a block south to a discount store.
"What about the beef? What about the chicken?" asked Brookins who noted that grocery stores provide more than food. "What about the relationship? What about seeing your smile as I'm coming into the grocery store?
"It's more of a community in this building."
Tuesday afternoon Christ Missionary Baptist Church will host a meeting to examine alternatives to the Double 8 closings.