When you think of DC restaurant staples, Busboys and Poets is probably up there in your list of trendy, intellectually pleasing places to visit. Beyond the tasty vegan nachos and the southern catfish dinner – complete with collard greens, there is a social activism undertone the restaurant adds to every neighborhood in which it enters.
The popular chain recently broke ground on the 2100 block of Martin Luther King Avenue in Southeast, Washington in October. This enterprise has been welcomed with open arms by the residents of Anacostia in search of healthy food options.
The truth of the matter is that Anacostia is a food desert. It has been canvased by innumerable carry-out and wing spots. A Busboys and Poets would afford residents another quality dining option right in their backyard.
There are only four full-service grocery stores for more than 150,000 people in Wards 7 and 8. 14th street NW has more grocers.
With little in the way of restaurant choices, other than fast food joints, if residents in Ward 8 want to eat commercially, they must trek across the river for it. That could mean a long bus ride with the entire family just to get a few days worth of groceries. Eastern Market and Potomac Ave are the closest stops.
“I get maybe enough food for three days; because that’s all I can carry,” said Serena Snowden, Anacostia resident, “We have to make multiple trips across the bridge because I have four little ones and I have to carry them and also carry the bags, ” she said.
A new location of Busboys and Poets won’t solve all of the hunger issues in Anacostia but urban farming groups have stepped up to fill in the gap for families who have little access to fresh produce. Organizations like Dreaming Out Loud (DOL) are working to fight hunger in DC’s food deserts. DOL has a small multi-vendor farmers market in Ward 7 every Wednesday. They have served more than 71,000 people in their three-year stint at the market.
DOL has been working tirelessly to bring attention to the need for fresh produce east of the river. Yet connecting those residents with the groceries they provide is the real challenge. Residents simply don’t know about them.
DOL President Christopher Bradshaw teams up with various community organizations to reach the urban demographic. All in all, right now Dreaming Out Loud has been a pioneer for concerns east of the river.
Residents are still looking forward to the grand opening of the new location of Busboys. The optimism for a new Anacostia landscape is high. Hopefully, residents there can benefit from these gains.