PART ONEsIX-FLAGS Opportunity zone PROJECT
Prepared By:Giselle WarrenChristine PlummerTwinkle PatelLydia WeathersFlynn Broady
Date:April 28, 2014
IntroductionThe Six-Flags Drive area has been designated as a Food Desert by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). A Food Desert is any area that is devoid of fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthful whole foods, which is largely due to a lack of grocery stores, farmers markets, and healthy food providers. Six-Flags Drive is located approximately 11 miles west of Atlanta and has a population of over 4500 residents, 77.7% Black/African American, 7.2% Caucasian, and 12.6% Latino. The area is categorized as low income with median income of just over $39,000 which is considerably lower than that of Cobb County (Six-Flags Drive Corridor Study-2005). Housing options in the area are predominantly apartments, many of which have very low occupancy rates and are a haven for crime. The area also has several empty store fronts which is an indication that a robust business environment is lacking.Cobb & Douglas County Public Health partnered with a student team from Kennesaw State Universitys Master of Public Administration Program to devise a way to provide fresh fruits and vegetables for residents in the area, which would be safe and affordable. We met with Mrs. Esther Ashford, Cobb Coalition Coordinator to discuss the approach to take in doing this project and were advised to find an existing location which sells fruits and vegetables and assist them with signage and possibly expanding the variety of items sold. The team visited the Six-Flags Drive area on two occasions to get a first-hand look at the conditions on the ground and identify potential locations. The location Chosen was Carniceria y Taqueria Don Magana which is located at 366 Six-Flags Drive.Information Directly ObservedSix Flags Drive (South Cobb) has been identified as a food desert, which lacks access to fresh fruits and vegetables. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a food desert means an area that lacks access to food (which includes the distance from food stores and access to transportation). After the initial meeting with Mr. Esther Ashford, Public Health Educator of Cobb and Douglas Public Health, to discuss identifying an area that can serve as a central location to distribute fresh fruits and vegetable for the local residents, she recommended that the group visit the actual site for direct observation.Upon arriving to Six Flags Drive, the Cobb Community Transit (CCT) bus stop was directly located in front of the strip malls. According to www.cobbcct.org, CCT is the second largest transit system in Georgia behind Marta. CCT buses make approximately four million trips per year with 73 buses and 21 para-transit vehicles. Although this transportation system is a great addition to the location, there are many concerns regarding the route schedules. The CCT bus arrived twice in a two hour span and may not arrive in a timely manner during weekends or inclement weather. However, this is the only transportation that is available to take residents of Six Flags Drive to the nearest stores or supermarket that sell fresh fruits and vegetables and without it, residents without vehicles would not have any access to fresh produce. After some research, www.cobbcounty.org mentions that community residents, property owners, businesses, and institutions with a vested interested in the revitalization of Six Flags Drive have worked with the Cobb County Department of Transportation to develop a comprehensive vision for the area. This is their opportunity to voice any concerns (see appendices).A local food mart indicates that it once sold frozen food, bread, milk, beer, and tobacco. They also had accepted EBT food stamps. However, it is no longer in operation, never sold any fresh produce, and is sitting vacant/abandoned, which can cause an increase in crime. On either side of the road, there are two strip malls before the apartment communities. This would be the area where residents can walk to get their groceries. Only one grocery store, Supermercado Carniceria y Taqueria, sells fresh produce catered towards Latino foods. There is another vacant lot that can be used as a place for a market which sells fresh produce. Inside Supermercado Carniceria y Taqueria, they have fresh produce towards the back of the store, mostly hidden from view. Pineapples, ginger, mangos, grapes, cabbages, carrots, cucumbers, oranges, lemons, limes, tomatoes, peppers, onions, apples, potatoes, and bananas are some of the fresh produce the store carries. EBT is also accepted here. After a close observation, it appears that a lot of the produce has been rotting. This indicates that not many local residents purchase produce from this location. Another market in the same strip mall sold an abundant amount of canned foods and alcohol. Many of the shelves were empty, which can be used to fill with fresh produce.In the strip mall across the street, there is a store called Express Tropical Market, which states that they sell Foods, Fashion, Music, and Movies. On the window, it says that they sell African, Mexican, and Caribbean products. Upon entering the store, an unpleasant odor overtook the area. Towards the back, there were a few produce in unorganized boxes, which had potatoes, bananas, corn, onions, tomatoes, garlic and ginger. None of which were in good condition. This location would not be a great option to bring in fresh produce as it does not look like the owner takes pride in up keeping the place.Driving farther up past the apartment complexes, there is a Dollar General. This would be a longer distance for the residents to walk to if they do not have vehicles, and there is no fresh produce sold there. The canned foods are sold at a higher price than one would find in a supermarket. Upon entering or exiting the exit, there is a Quick Trip gas station, which sells minimum amount of fresh produce.
Outside Research According to United States Census Bureau website at www.census.gov, information cannot be narrowed down to a specific road, in this case, Six Flags Drive; therefore, researching information on population and demographics had its limitations. The home value is around $67,000. Majority age range is 30 years old and the gender of area is pretty even with 51% female and 49% male. In order to get more specific information for Six Flags Drive alone, the next option is to personally call the apartment complexes in the area to gather information on the demographics from the property/community manager since most residents rent and is not home owners in the area. A list of ten apartment complexes was gathered that are located on Six Flags Drive. West Chase Apartments Ridgeview Apartments Lake Crossing ApartmentsHunters Grove Apartments Parkview Apartments Magnolia Crossing Apartments Kingsley Village Whisperwood Apartments Concepts 21 Signature Management Corporation These are the properties that would be beneficial in receiving demographic information. The offices are closed on Sundays and the managers are not present on property on Saturdays. When calling for information on the weekend, the leasing consultants were not able to disclose the information and advised to reach out to the managers Monday through Friday. Unfortunately, communities are not able to disclose demographic information due to Federal Fair Housing Act of 1968. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has had the lead role in administering the Fair Housing Act.Impromptu InterviewsWe found it insightful to put a face with the community we would be serving. There were some reservations keeping strangers from speaking with us because we did appear to be out of place, or looking for something in particular, but we found creative ways to break the ice. Most interviews conducted began with Where do you get your groceries, your fruits and veggies? Once this question was asked, people were more likely to respond to our request with ease. We learned the primary issue in the area is the lack of quality food products for those who do not have transportation. We spoke with a 22-year-old mother who was waiting at the bus stop for the next bus to arrive. She shared her insight on the area..The bus is always late, especially on the weekends. We have to sit here and wait though since Marta doesnt come out here. I usually get my food near my job out in Marietta, because I dont like the stuff sold out here. It can get a little dangerous at night or when it gets dark, so I try not to get out too late because of that.She had a child with her who was in her stroller. Her friend, single 19-year-old also shared her insight on the area.I used to walk to the store across the street when my mom needed something from the store. It is abandoned nowadays because of the crime rate. Now they just sell drugs and stuff out of the building. I sometimes go to the Family Dollar, but stuff costs so much more there, we usually go without or wait until we can get to the grocery store up the road. We dont shop at the El Mercado unless we really need to.We noticed an underlying theme that consumers did not trust the area so they preferred to shop outside of the Six Flags Drive area.During our final direct observation group meeting at the selected store, we learned a lot about the market and what it has to offer. We engaged with some of the customers during this time as well. We met a 24-year-old, black, single mother who shared her insightI like the store because I can stop here and get something for dinner tonight. Since I dont have a car it is really convenient to walk here and grab something quick. They also have fresh produce and meatwhich I love. I can get all the items I need for a good spaghetti meal and be all set. I wish there was more of a broad selection for the food sold here. More greens and other veggies I like to p