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March 26th, 2013
11:08 AM ET

From actor to grocery entrepreneur: 'Treme' star Wendell Pierce works to combat food deserts in New Orleans

You know the actor Wendell Pierce from the roles he's played in HBO's "The Wire" and "Treme." Now, Pierce is working on his entrepreneurial skills.

He's opening a grocery store chain called Sterling Farms with the goal of providing healthy and fresh food alternatives for people in low-income neighborhoods, or what they often call food deserts, many of which are in New Orleans. In some areas, nearly 60% of residents have to travel more than three miles to reach a supermarket.

Pierce joins Soledad O'Brien on "Starting Point" this morning to talk about his venture.

"Food deserts are an issue across the country, and not just low-income neighborhoods," Pierce says. "We have New Orleans east, still looking for commercial districts to come back and it's something for me shouldn't be part of the American landscape. The First Lady put out a call of action to ask American business to come off the sidelines and go into those under-served communities and Sterling Farms is heeding that call."

Pierce says access to healthier foods helps folks to make better choices.

"You have to understand that obesity and hunger go hand and hand. Hunger comes from the fact that there is lack of food access. Lack of food justice really and that's what we're dealing with - with Sterling Farms to go into those communities and give people a choice. You know because economic development is also the social justice movement of the 21st century. And to have American neighborhoods, American communities to not have access to just fresh food is - is something that is unacceptable."

Filed under: Doing good • Food deserts
soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. vonmiwi

    This is what I call a celebrity who I actually can call a role model. It's such a nice change of pace to see celebrities actually using their wealth to do good in the world.

    April 5, 2013 at 9:03 am | Report abuse | Reply
  2. P5CU

    GM Everyone: I don't mean to be mean or to serve the enthusiast a cup of negativity this morning. However, let's look at reality. While on the surface Mr. Wendell Pierce's entrepreneurship plan to bring a grocery store chain back into low income and under-served communities sounds good. It sounds like a socially conscious and responsible idea. The reality of his plan is crime. Commercial businesses neglect areas infested with high rates of homicides, robberies and other territorial crimes. When and if Mr. Pierce open up his stores they will close within a 3 year time frame.

    March 29, 2013 at 7:26 am | Report abuse | Reply
  3. cara

    I'm happy to see this is happening. However, if we are really serious about ending (childhood) obesity, then we will not be lining the shelves at the checkout line with sugary candies that are contributing to obesity and diabetes in our culture. We all know the temptations of those shelves as we're checking out. Yes, we all have a choice. Yes, it is harder to stay on the path of wellness when we are bombarded with unhealthy options. In a store that is advocating for children's health, these shelves should be a reflection of that initiative. There are many many many healthy items that could fill these shelves and be used to educate the community about healthy choices.

    March 26, 2013 at 10:55 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Mr. Wendelll

    What a great role model !

    March 26, 2013 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse | Reply

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