Eliminating KC food deserts reveals disparities in grocery store prices

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Despite new stores opening in so-called food deserts, some claim shopping for groceries continues to show sharp differences in prices.

Some claim prices vary widely based on location.

Lipari Brothers Sunfresh at Linwood Boulevard and Prospect Avenue offers services like a deli, fresh produce and seafood that folks in the urban core can't find for miles around.

Angie Lile lives in Waldo where there are many groceries from which to choose.

She wanted to find out if urban core customers truly face higher food costs, so she did some comparison shopping. She bought a basic item: a can of corn, from groceries across the city.

While many people might prefer fresh corn or frozen vegetables, Lile says low income families are more likely to buy the lower priced canned vegetables.

"I was really surprised," Lile said. "I found that the corn all the way at 31st and Prospect was one and half times more expensive than the corn I found in HyVee just over in Kansas."

Lile's results show you can get that can of corn for a few pennies more than the low price at a dollar or a no frills store, both of which are nearby in the urban core.

Sunfresh owner John Lipari says he can't compete with those retailers when he's providing better quality food and an inviting atmosphere.

"We are not in competition with the dollar store," Lipari said. "This is a completely different thing. This is something this community needed. We didn't have anything like this."

Still some claim providing true food equality will require more choices and more competition. Lipari believes there isn't a market to support more players right now in the urban core.

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