Monday, May 6, 2013

Day One: Food Desert Gastronomy

On May 11th and May 18th, Day One Vegan Pop-up will be composing a menu from scratch, inspired by gas stations, bodegas, corner stores, and convenience stores.  Please see the menu posted below.

On March 22nd, I attended the Duke/Durham Health Summit, an annual event that sits at the crossroads of Durham community health and the Duke Health System.  The theme of food deserts came up several times, as well as the statistic that the poverty rate in Durham has jumped from 13.6% (2008) to 20.4% (2011) (American Community Survey).  That means one in five Durhamites live in poverty, and that number increases to one in four (27%) when you look at the child population.  Connecting poverty to food deserts is not a reach.  We often talk of low-income communities, when really we should be talking about no-income communities.  When families do not have a disposable $15-20 to buy ingredients for several meals at a time, they visit corner stores to purchase single meals that are sustaining and will cost only $2-3 each.  These meals are generally cookies, candy, chips, and soda.  To confirm this, Matt Props and I traveled to Trinity Food Mart, M&M Food MartHolloway Street Food Mart, and Big Apples.  We started at Trinity, and as we moved East, the choices that you might find at an ordinary gas station became slimmer and slimmer, the aisles more bare, and the point of sale enclosed by a plastic barrier.

To raise awareness on the dearth of choices available at corner stores, as well as the poverty that forces those choices, Chef Matt and I are next going to do a menu of corner store gastronomy, except everything will be made entirely from scratch, and vegan to boot.  We will donate $0.75 of every entree purchased to the Durham Interfaith Hospitality Network which serves homeless families with children, with an additional lump sum to them at the end, and additionally we will provide a personally prepared pop-up dinner for this charitable organization's clients.

We hope that you can join us on either May 11th or May 18th at Ninth Street Bakery (136 E Chapel Hill St., Durham) to sample our take on some corner store classics and raise awareness about food deserts in Durham.


  1. I'm so proud and impressed by you and your team Ar. This is a problem for many of my students and their families - if only we could all take a trip to Durham for this Day One =)