Editorial: We need accessible grocery stores in our community

Editorial Board

The closing of Dave’s Market near the Southside of campus garnered much annoyance for the Case Western Reserve University community. While Dave’s wasn’t the most convenient grocery store, as you had to go up a large hill to get there, it was still walkable. While there are other grocery stores near or on-campus, none of them are conventional grocery stores, often lacking many necessities students require. Plum Market and Murray Hill Market only offer a small number of expensive grocery options without a requisite amount of items like toiletries; a different Dave’s Market, past the Cleveland Clinic, can only be accessed by a 5 to 10-minute car ride or a 20-minute bus ride. Transportation timing is very similar for ALDI, too. Clearly, there needs to be a more accessible and affordable grocery store for CWRU students and our surrounding communities.

It is important that we also consider this issue in the context of the food and grocery scene in Cleveland as a whole. Food deserts, or areas that lack access to affordable and nutritious food, are widespread in Cleveland—according to Cuyahoga County Planning Commission, 59% of Cleveland residents live in food deserts. Communities that live in food deserts are often largely impoverished and lack not only access to nutritious food, but also infrastructural resources like reliable and widely accessible public transportation. In Cleveland, many of the communities that are highly impacted by food deserts are on the east side—the side CWRU is on. 

This phenomenon is no accident; the history of Cleveland’s racist redlining practices is highly prevalent today. The practice of redlining was utilized by the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation throughout the mid-20th century to “grade” neighborhoods in the United States based on their perceived mortgage-lending risk. The practice graded the majority of minority—especially Black—neighborhoods as “hazardous,” and it essentially promoted the segregation of cities and limited the wealth and opportunities available to Black populations. Despite the practice of redlining being banned in 1968 with the Fair Housing Act, redlined neighborhoods still heavily face these effects in the United States today—especially in Cleveland. As a result, many of the majority-Black east side communities surrounding our campus suffer from food deserts, and this is paired with a historical lack of transportation.

It’s easy for us to complain about the added inconvenience of trying to access grocery stores, but we have to be mindful of the bubble of privilege that most of us live in. The majority of us are able to order groceries online as we can afford the delivery costs. Additionally, we have free shuttles that drive students directly to Target and Walmart, many of us have cars and a lot of us are able to afford the often overpriced items of Plum Market on Northside. However, with all of this taken into consideration, it is still important that we fight to replace the old Dave’s Market with another grocery store—this would at least somewhat help to ameliorate both our own problem of affordable grocery accessibility and the issue of food deserts in the area. Furthermore, while many students may wish for it to happen, it is important to clarify that Trader Joe’s is not an accessible option with its less-than-affordable products; advocating for one to replace Dave’s Market showcases the ignorance of the community we reside in. And while there is a Meijer’s coming to the Fairfax neighborhood, near the Cleveland Clinic and on the CWRU shuttle route, it is not an accessible option for many at CWRU, at least compared to the former Dave’s. 

Overall, there is a visible need for CWRU students to have an accessible and walkable grocery store. Our current options are not great, and Dave’s Market on Southside was the closest real, accessible option we had. It is imperative that we fight for a more sustainable alternative not just for the CWRU community, but also for the impoverished and disadvantaged neighborhoods we are surrounded by.