As noted in today's story by Peter Crimmins on WHYY, the allocation of public money and seizure of private land in Mantua, including Dupree Studios, have reportedly been justified in order to address the Mantua "food desert”. Access to quality food is clearly important, and we reiterate that we support a supermarket in Mantua. Nonetheless, as context, it is worth noting that Mantua is not in fact a food desert as originally defined by the USDA.
The closest large supermarket (Fresh Grocer at 40th and Walnut), though only 1 mile away from the site of Dupree Studios, is across several busy arterials. In the map above, the food desert areas are in green under the original USDA definition. Note that most of Philadelphia, including Mantua, is not considered a food desert. A small portion of Mantua does fall into a secondary broader category that uses half-mile distance.
Mantua is also not considered by the City of Philadelphia Greenworks plan to lack access to fresh food. While we believe the sponsors of this supermarket initiative project have good intentions, this use of public funds for a private supermarket development of questionable size recalls the unfortunate story of the Germantown Fresh Grocer that raised concerns about “pay-to-play” with Pennsylvania supermarket grants.