NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Making groceries in the city is easy as it was before Hurricane Katrina according to research from Tulane University.
Tulane's study shows the number of supermarkets in New Orleans now matches the number before the storm. Before Katrina there were at least 30 stores in the city, but that number fell to roughly 15 after the storm.
Research also looked at the disparity of food availability in predominately African-American neighborhoods.
"Access was much more difficult for predominately African-American neighborhoods and again that has continued to rise to the point where we don't see a difference primarily in access between those two neighborhood types," Adrienne Mundorf, the author of the study, said.
Mundorf admits though, there are still some pockets of the city that don't have adequate access to groceries, specifically New Orleans East and the Lower Ninth Ward.
Burnell Cotlon hopes to change that in the Lower Ninth Ward after opening a small market at the corner of Caffin Avenue and Galvez.
"We do need more and for the big box stores that don't want to come back, that's understandable, because there's a certain amount they have to make per square inch, but I can't look at it like that, there's people back here that need this right here and if no one else is gonna do it I am," Cotlon said.
That's why four graduate students from Yale spent the week in Cotlon's store as part of their project helping entrepreneurs who are revitalizing their communities.
"Some of the focus that we've had is just making sure that everyone knows about this because we need a lot of people coming through, but also to raise enough money to actually bring all the inventory we need, so the community feels this is a one stop shop. Otherwise they just go to the gas station or have to take three city buses and that's just a Walmart. This is the option that is going to be the best thing for this community, run by people that they love and trust," Brittan Berry, one of the Yale students, said.
Cotlon hopes through their help and investment from the community, he'll be able to expand his store, which could eventually bring former resident back home to the Lower Ninth Ward.
"We have a barber shop, I've hired people, they're working now, same thing with the sweet shop and we have everything in here, you name it, we have it, from candies to potatoes and yes, if you build it, they will come. They will come," Cotlon said.