City of Poughkeepsie Lacks Full-Service Grocery Store

Poverty, lack of transporation affects the city and town

With only one supermarket, Market Fresh, within walking distance from the City of Poughkeepsie, community members are oftentimes left with limited and unhealthy food options. Due to poverty, the lack of supermarkets, and few transportation options, residents have little access to healthy food.

Food deserts can be found all over the United States and are classified as areas where there is a limited access to affordable and nutritious foods. Although bodegas are available in the city, there is a lack of fresh produce and inexpensive healthy items for locals to purchase.

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For many people living in the city who don’t have cars accessible to them, it is a challenge to get to a grocery store. According to the US Census, 14 percent of working-age Hudson Valley citizens did not have access to a vehicle in 2016. Although public transportation is available in Poughkeepsie, it can be time-consuming and expensive for residents to use frequently.

The problem extends to the Town of Poughkeepsie, as well. Several Marist students shared their thoughts.

Students at Marist College who are not permanent residents of Poughkeepsie also find it difficult to get fresh food. Gianna Mastromatteo ‘21 and Kayla Shapiro ‘22, in particular, expressed the challenges of finding healthy options without a car on campus.

“There are not a lot of options for quick and healthy food,” said Mastromatteo. “The closet food place in walking distance is McDonalds. It was hard to get to a grocery store before I had a car on campus — I had to go with upperclassmen.”

It was hard to get to a grocery store before I had a car on campus — I had to go with upperclassmen
— Gianna Mastromatteo '21

Shapiro agreed and said, “If you don’t have a car, you really can’t go grocery shopping. The closet thing in walking distance is Rite Aid, but that's not even a real grocery store.”

Meghan Davis ‘23 also had an opinion about the location of the nearest grocery store in proximity to Marist, which is Stop and Shop.

“Since I have to walk everywhere, I would have to walk on Route 9, and I can’t do that,” Davis said. “I can only eat the cafeteria food [for] so long, sometimes I just want to make my own food. If there were more grocery stores near school, I could buy fresh vegetables and fruit for myself.”

The problem on the Marist campus should be alleviated with the upcoming Hudson Heritage renovation project on Route 9, directly across the street from the College. The new, pedestrian-friendly development plan features a full service grocery store as its first commercial occupant.

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The underlying effects of living in a food desert can be harmful to the health and prosperity of people living in the community. The City of Poughkeepsie is classified as a food desert according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The USDA defines food deserts as parts of the country vapid of fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthy whole foods, usually found in impoverished areas. 

Poor quality food is linked to health problems such as cancer, cardio-vascular disease, and chronic illness.

Within the past two years, a program has started in Poughkeepsie to try and relieve the issue of food insecurity. During the summer of 2017, The Poughkeepsie Waterfront Market opened to the public and continues every summer to feature farm fresh vegetables, fruits, meat, eggs, poultry, and baked goods.

The Market operates from June through the end of September on Monday afternoons 3:00 to 6:30PM at The Pavilion at MHCM (75 N. Water St., Poughkeepsie, NY). Although the market isn’t a permanent solution to the city's food desert crisis, it is a positive step that allows residents to experience nutritious foods and bond with their community.

The Poughkeepsie mayor’s office could not be reached for comment at this time.

Greta StuckeyComment