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South Memphis Revitalization Project creates food market

By Dana Porter
On April 19, 2012

The South Memphis Revitalization Project recently achieved its goal of providing the community with secure resources by rehabilitating homes and preventing "food deserts." Now, the plan will target more projects for residents.

Faculty and students from The University of Memphis' anthropology, engineering, public health, architecture and city and regional planning programs has worked in partnership with the South Memphis Renaissance Collaborative to improve the South Memphis area for the past four years.

The Works, Inc., a council within SMRC, requested help from The U of M to put together a plan to aid the community.

"We are helping communities improve as well as learning and working as a team. The main importance is how we can all work together to make things happen, starting with this project," said David Cox, professor of public administration and executive assistant to President Shirley Raines.

Under the City of Memphis's priority project, the students, faculty and SMRC worked to get the budget for a farmers' market on South Parkway and Mississippi Boulevard passed in 2010.

The area, once a food desert, can now provide fresh fruits and vegetables to residents in the neighborhood.

"The fresh food market is a seasonal market from April to October. The Plough Foundation granted the facility funds to become a year-around business for customers," said A. Katherine Lambert-Pennington, assistant professor to the Department of Anthropology.

Lambert-Pennington said future projects consist of expanding the Ernestine Rivers Childcare to accommodate more students.

"In addition to expanding childcare, the Urban Art Commission awarded the neighborhood funding to enhance public art instillation that is currently in the works," she said.

The funding for rehabilitating the homes came from the Hyde Family Foundation, Assisi Foundation and other community fundraisers.

Thomas said there are more than 60 projects in the plan's blueprint, including a job-training program that will work with residents to receive higher-paying jobs.

"This partnership was an ongoing research agent to see how the progression of underprivileged neighborhoods would improve," he said.


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