Pierce said after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, he helped bring back his childhood neighborhood of Pontchartrain Park, a historic neighborhood for middle-class blacks -- by starting the non-profit Pontchartrain Park Community Development Corp. to replace hundreds of lost homes. A missing ingredient, however, was a grocery store.
Pierce and his partners invested in a chain of convenience stores, Sterling Express, and a full-service grocery store, Sterling Farms, which just opened in what is described as a "food desert," a neighborhood where residents must travel more than a mile to a store selling fresh food, NBC News reported.
Nineteen percent of all Orleans Parish households have no access to a vehicle, making purchases of healthy food difficult, Pierce said.
"What I hope Sterling Farms is -- that neighborhood grocery store where you see your neighbors, where you build that economic engine within your own community and exercise your right of self-determination," Pierce told NBC News.
"I'm a member of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, which is trying to end childhood obesity. I deal with my own issues of weight. So eating healthy is the focus and part of the mission. The two can co-exist. You can do well and do good."
An added benefit to shopping at Sterling Farms is the store will provide transportation to customers spending a minimum of $50.