Actor Wendell Pierce opens food stores

April 7, 2013 at 2:01 AM
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NEW ORLEANS, April 7 (UPI) -- Actor Wendell Pierce, best known for his roles on "The Wire" and "Treme," says he is also an activist bringing fresh food to his hometown of New Orleans.

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.

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