Philly Phood Desert

Philadelphia Phood Desert

By Maryrose Kelkis

Where Philadelphian’s are struggling to gain access to fresh food.

Food deserts are common for inner cities and Philadelphia is no stranger to them. There are 307,000 Philadelphians living in neighborhoods with high poverty and low-to-no walkable access to healthy food realtors (roughly 16 neighborhood areas) that are considered a food desert. Some of these food desert locations are a few neighborhoods long. One of the food desert areas goes from Hunting Park to Germantown.

The United States Department of Agriculture describes food deserts as, “urban neighborhoods and rural towns without ready access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food.”

As of 2011, there are only 137 full service supermarkets in Philadelphia and 51 farmers markets. While there are some farmers markets, many are only open a few days a week, limiting fresh food access to those who live around the markets.

Food deserts in Philadelphia.

Food deserts in Philadelphia.

North Philadelphian Madai Remos explains, “Growing up I didn’t consider my area a ‘food desert.’ I just knew that the grocery store was far away and the corner stores were close.”

The number of corner stores in Philadelphia has reached 1,710. Out of the 1,710 corner stores only 618 are considered a healthy corner store. The Healthy Corner Store Initiative seeks to have the corner stores provide healthy items and even hosting in-store community nutrition education classes.

“I think that educating the community on healthy food could help because then communities will know how to spend their money in a way that feeds their families while still being able to be healthy,” explains Remos.

There are some organizations that are trying to help give Philadelphian’s access to fresh and healthy food. One of these Philadelphia-based organizations is called the Philadelphia Urban Creators.

Philadelphia Urban Creators is, “a youth and community driven organization that inspires inner-city neighborhoods to transform neglected landscapes into food hubs, social enterprises, and models of urban sustainability.”

Organizations like these not only give healthy food at a ready and cheaper price, it also involves the community in growing their own food to become sustainable. This grassroots organization originally started at Temple University in hopes to learn about the local community.

With as many people living in these low-food access areas, Philadelphia is finding hope in a few of these numbers. According to the Food Access Report, “we find that approximately 61,000 fewer Philadelphians live in areas with high poverty and low-to-no walkable access to healthy food retailers. This represents a 17% decrease over 2 years.”

“I have seen new grocery stores in some of the neighborhoods that are poor. I have seen the community benefit from these stores opening. It’s a nice change from fast-food restaurants,” says Remos.

Fast-food restaurants

Fast-food restaurants in Philadelphia.

Shown on this map, center city and its surrounding neighborhoods have the highest amount of fast-food restaurants in Philadelphia.

With the rising number of super markets and farmers markets there is still a large population of Philadelphia that is in a low-access area for healthy food. Initiatives have helped decrease the numbers but Philadelphia is still home to many food deserts.

For more information please contact Maryrose Kelkis at

Works Cited


Plaza Pizza Shares Unique Connection With Fellow Shops

Plaza Pizza Shares Unique Connection With Fellow Shops

By Tom Reifsnyder

It’s no secret that businesses compete for customers, but for Plaza Pizza, family comes first.

In the early 90s, the first Plaza Pizza was opened by the father of a Greek immigrant family on Spring Garden St. in North Philadelphia, Pa. The son of the founding family opened the second and most current shop in 2006 on 1600 North Broad St, directly across from Morgan Hall on Temple University’s Main Campus. The owners’ identities are kept secret for unspecified reasons.

Plaza Pizza is a staple of the food scene in Temple’s city-style college town.

Students, police officers, and North Philadelphians all flock to Plaza day after day to indulge in the restaurant’s wide variety of options. They serve everything from breakfast to cheesesteaks, and pizza of course.

Although Plaza boasts an expansive customer base, City View and Philly Style also share a considerable slice of the pizza business on Temple’s Main Campus. The three shops have similar entrees, but the menu isn’t the only thing they have in common.

Plaza employee Sam Memmos is one of many Greeks that works in the pizza business on Temple's Main Campus. (Photo: Tom Reifsnyder)

Plaza employee Sam Memmos, 23, is one of many Greeks that works in the pizza business on Temple’s Main Campus. (Photo: Tom Reifsnyder)

“We’re all Greeks, and we actually all hangout together,” Plaza employee Sam Memmos said. “My brother works at City View, my cousin also works at City View, my other cousin is a partner with Philly Style, and the one owner from Philly Style is originally from City View, so it’s all connected.

“A lot of us are cousins, kids you grew up with, kids you went to school with, kids you went to Greek school with; everyone knows each other.”

Memmos, 23, moved back to the U.S. from Greece two years ago after spending 11 years in his home country. He is currently in his second year as a Plaza employee.

There’s no doubt that pizza is a family affair for Plaza, City View, and Philly Style. Although the three shops inevitably compete for customers, the employees never hesitate to lend a helping hand.

“It’s not a competition at all,” Plaza floor manager Jack Karamitopulos, 36, said. “When we run out of stuff or when they run out of stuff, we all help each other out.

“We hangout outside of work and share stories with them and they share stories with us, you know, sit there and laugh about it; everybody gets along pretty good.”

While the majority of the employees share a Greek connection, Plaza employee and Temple student Daniel Archer is among the group of non-Greeks that has been welcomed into the family business.


Plaza floor manager Jack Karamitopulos, 36, emphasizes the friendly connection between Plaza, City View, and Philly Style. (Photo: Tom Reifsnyder)

“Everyone here is very cool and we have such a racially diverse group of people that work here,” Archer said. “A lot of our drivers are Algerian, Egyptian, and African American.

“I’m an American mutt, everyone else is a bunch of Greeks, and we all get along together; we learn different lingo and stuff like that, so it’s a lot of fun.”

Archer, 26, is a senior Anthropology student in Temple’s College of Liberal Arts. Balancing school with a part-time job isn’t easy, but Archer has been able to make it work with Plaza.

“They’re really willing to work with my school schedule, which makes it so much easier for me, just like any college student,” he said. “If you have a boss that isn’t willing to work around the most important thing that you have going for you, there’s no point in working there.

“These guys will always tell me that school comes first.”

Plaza’s family-first mentality is undoubtedly what makes their restaurant unique to Temple’s racially diverse community.

To check out the menu or place an online order, head over to

Food Waste

Food Waste

The more we eat, the more we throw away, the bigger the problem. With the holidays right around the corner, and our stomachs rumbling for the endless servings of mashed potatoes we know are coming, it is necessary to step back and realize that our consumption and our waste -as minuscule as they might seem- have a direct impact on the world around us.

-Margery Cedano

Mexican Post Express Makes Bid For “Best Value” On Temple’s Campus

Mexican Post Express Makes Bid For “Best Value” On Temple’s Campus

If you haven’t noticed lately, burritos are taking over the world (or so it seems).

On Temple University’s Main Campus, there are three major Mexican food restaurants: Chipotle, Qdoba, and Mexican Post Express.

Although Mexican Post may be the least well known of the three among Temple students, the franchise has quite a rich history in the City of Brotherly Love. For the past 25 years, Mexican Post has been providing high quality authentic Mexican food to customers at very reasonable prices.

On Monday, October 13, 2014, I sat down with owners Nilesh and Mita Desai to talk about what makes Mexican Post Express the best Mexican restaurant at Temple University.

-Tom Reifsnyder

Cats VS Dogs = Pat’s VS Geno’s

Cats VS Dogs = Pat’s VS Geno’s

If you don’t know that one of the things Philadelphia is most known for is the cheesesteak, then you probably have been living in a cave.

Philadelphians take cheesesteaks very seriously, and can name you their favorite place to go to faster than they can name their favorite color. Choosing between Pat’s or Geno’s -the so-called pioneers of the cheesesteak- is like choosing between cats or dogs, and the answer is usually not taken lightly.

Usually people head down to South Philly to eat from either one of the places, however, I accompanied Deshawn Harper to have a taste of each steak back-to-back in order to better compare the two.