One of the most emotional moments in a long time

Advocate reporter Andrea Gallo called Gary Meise's testimony at the Baton Rouge police chief search hearing "one of the most emotional moments in a long time" at City Hall.

Watch till the end.

Addressing the grocery gap


City Hall rally urges Mayor & Council to "keep their word" on grocery gap funding

Monday, November 13th, 4:30pm
Outside City Hall, 222 St. Louis Street

"We believe our officials are sincere in their support. But it’s time we start saying, not just with our words but with our budgets and with our actions, that we value and prioritize addressing food access and economic development in our most neglected neighborhoods.” 

Baton Rouge – Together Baton Rouge will hold a rally on Monday, November 13th at 4:30pm at City Hall to urge the Mayor-President and Metropolitan Council to fulfill their commitment to fund an economic development program to attract grocery stores to "grocery gap" neighborhoods.

As candidates during last year's elections, Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome and a majority of the current Metropolitan Council committed to support city-parish funding for a fresh food financing initiative in the amount of $1.5 million.

The proposed city-parish budget contains zero funding to implement the initiative.

It is the fourth straight year that city officials have given verbal commitment to support the project, but not followed through with funding.

In 2013, the central recommendations of the EBR Food Access Policy Commission was to start a fresh food financing initiative to bring access to healthy food to the parish’s 100,000 residents who live in low food-access areas.

Together Baton Rouge is holding the rally to urge city officials to keep their word and finally get the project off the ground.

“Budgets are statements of a community’s values and priorities,” said Edgar Cage, who helps lead Together Baton Rouge’s food access work.

“We believe our officials are sincere in their support. But it’s time we start saying, not just with our words but with our budgets and with our actions, that we value and prioritize addressing food access and economic development in our most neglected neighborhoods.”

For full details on the Fresh Food Financing Initiative, click here.

EBR Food Access Facts

  • Nearly 100,000 residents in East Baton Rouge Parish live in “grocery gap” neighborhoods –about 20% of the parish population.
  • The national average of residents food deserts is 7%
  • 32,753 of the EBR residents in Grocery Gap neighborhoods are children. 13,282 are seniors.
  • The Grocery Gap affects all 12 Metro Council District.
  • Lack of access to health foods is directly related to obesity and obesity-related illnesses
  • Lack of access to grocery stores increases the cost of food by 7 to 25%, typically in the neighborhoods least able to pay more.
  • New Orleans has had a fresh food financing initiative since 2011. It has funded 6 grocery store projects, creating 200 jobs and adding 179,000 sq. ft. of food retail.
  • Fresh food financing initiatives are public-private partnerships. Public funds typically leverage 8 to 10 times as much private sector funding.

Note: Together Baton Rouge would not receive any public funds under this initiative. The organization does not accept funds from government sources, period. The funding for a fresh food financing initiative would go as incentives to grocery stores and to a community development finance initiative to administer the program. A budget is included here.

One cancer mom is fighting back against cuts to healthcare

Baton Rouge -- April Blackburn voted for Bill Cassidy for his 2014 US Senate race. She met Senator Cassidy in person earlier in the year, where he assured her that he only would support a health bill if it assured that "families like hers would be taken care of" and would not "fall through the cracks."

April's three year-old daughter has leukemia. Her chemotherapy costs over $1 million. They are one of the families who could lose coverage from the proposed Medicaid cuts.

As the rubber hit the road on the Senate version of the federal healthcare overhaul, with an outline of the bill finally seeing the light of day this morning, April's worst fears for her family seem all too close at hand.

The hopes that the Senate version of the healthcare bill would be less "cruel" than the House version, to quote President Donald Trump, appear to have been wishful thinking. The bill's overall thrust is very similar to the House version. Its central function is not so much healthcare provision, but a swap of healthcare provision for tax cuts -- the scaling back of federal funds to states to pay for Medicaid, used mostly by poor people, would pay for tax cuts that primarily benefit wealthy, out-of state residents.

Louisiana would be one of the nation's biggest losers in this swap, according to data from the Louisiana Budget Project. The state, after all, has far more people who would lose coverage from Medicaid cuts than it does wealthy residents who would benefit from tax cuts.

April, for one, is fighting back. She worked with Together Baton Rouge to record one of the most powerful testimonies to come out of the health debate -- a simple statement of her family's situation and a challenge to Senator Cassidy to fulfill the commitment he made to her.

Together BR releases study on neighborhood disparities in drug possession enforcement


Download the study.

Press coverage:

The Advocate, “Together Baton Rouge says BRPD drug enforcement disproportionately hits poor, black neighborhoods”

The Times Picayune, Baton Rouge drug arrests disproportionately affect poor, blacks: report”

WAFB Channel 9, "Together BR report: BRPD drug enforcement disproportionately impacts poor, African American neighborhoods”

“We figured we could either sit around and wait for the Department of Justice to make some contribution, or we could start to act for ourselves at the local level,” said Rev. Lee T. Wesley, an Executive Committee member of Together Baton Rouge. “Our first step has been to take a close look at this very important aspect of policing in our community and how it can be improved.”

2016 Citizens Assembly with city-parish candidates

  Watch the video:



The Advocate, "Together Baton Rouge grills candidates on law enforcement, tax exemptions, flood relief and addressing 'food deserts'

Read the article.



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