Rouses Breaks Ground on Store in Baton Rouge Food Desert
Thibodaux, Louisiana-based grocery chain Rouses Markets broke ground on a new location in Baton Rouge that will help bring fresh foods to the northern part of the city. Together with Baton Rouge officials, the Rouses team held a groundbreaking ceremony at the intersection of Florida Boulevard and North Ardenwood Drive. In addition to fighting food insecurity in the area, the new store will help to renovate a major thoroughfare in North Baton Rouge. Louisiana is among the states with highest poverty rates. The poverty rate in Baton Rouge is 26%, and one out of every 4 residents’ lives below the poverty line. Many impoverished residents live in the northern part of the city, but Rouses says it is not going to cut corners on this store. “We want to build the finest store we can,” CEO Donny Rouse said. “That’s what the community expects from us. This store is going to have every offering that every other Rouses does. It’s an area that needs a store.” Brining fresh groceries to more than 70,000 people in Baton Rouge living in a food desert has been an ongoing community effort. For the past five years, Rouses worked with city officials and community partners on the project, including Metro Councilman Cleve Dunn Jr., the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, Build Baton Rouge and Baton Rouge North Economic Development District, and Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome. “This new Rouses location is an important step towards increasing access to quality, fresh, nutritional food in an area that is in need of healthier options,” Mayor Broome said. The new grocery store is the first step in revitalizing the area. The commitment from Rouses will bring other businesses to the area. “Multiple organizations, elected officials and individuals are engaging retailers or grocery store vendors like Rouses,” said Metro Councilman Cleve Dunn Jr. “There are a lot of conversations going on, this is just the one that got finalized first.” The 44,000-square-foot store will contribute to the revitalization of the Ardenwood Shopping Center and will open next summer.