Wes Moore recently won the democratic primary race for governor of Maryland. He will be the first Black governor of Maryland if he wins this fall. Long-time community member Marvin “Doc” L. Cheatham, Ed.D., president and CEO of the Matthew Henson Community Development Corporation, called for Moore’s support on Sandtown’s food desert issue this summer.

By Tashi McQueen,
AFRO Political Writer,
Report For America Corps Member

Wes Moore addressed community leaders’ concerns over food deserts in Charm City this summer, agreeing to help them tackle the issue in West Baltimore and beyond.

“Food deserts,” a long-established challenge for Baltimoreans, describes a community with little or no access to fresh and nourishing foods. 

According to a 2020 report from Morgan State University’s Urban Mobility and Equity Center (UMEC), Americans have seen a decrease in grocery stores in urban areas in exchange for an increase in suburban areas. This causes greater reliance on cars, isolating those in urban areas with low income.

The UMEC reports that persons with a median income of $35,000 or less are considered food insecure.

Marvin “Doc” Cheatham, Ed.D., president and CEO of the Matthew Henson Community Development Corporation, has been vocal about the challenge facing West Baltimore residents. He combined his efforts with leaders from the Harlem Gardens, Bridgeview-Greenlawn,  Matthew Henson, Carey House, Lauren House, Harvey Johnson Towers, Harlem Park West, and the Sandtown-Winchester areas. 

“We have a very large area –a significant or overwhelming majority– that [does] not have transportation which makes a food market a necessity,” Cheatham told the AFRO, of the Sandtown area in West Baltimore.

The leaders have stressed their need for a “high quality” and “reasonably priced” food market.

Cheatham and the team suggested a location where a market building would be feasible: 1500 block of N. McKean.

Moore spoke on Cheatham’s concern at a debate held in late June. 

Cheatham was impressed with Moore at that forum, where 13 of the 16 candidates in the race before the primary responded and showed up. The event totaled over two hours with several live streams.

“On behalf of the residents, we indicated that we are fully standing behind Moore in his efforts to not only get elected but also to bring to fruition a food market to our area,” Cheatham told the AFRO.

Moore’s platform includes creating economic opportunities, the importance of transportation and economic mobility, and creating opportunities for Black families. 

The AFRO endorsed Wes Moore leading up to the primary elections in July.

“This is my home, and I want to do everything I can to fix this issue,” said Moore in a written statement to the AFRO. “[Food deserts] are deeply important to me, which is why my wife and I created ‘Food with a Focus’ with Thread and Baltimore Corps to provide 250,000 pounds of healthy food to more than 10,000 families in need during the pandemic.”

“I was proud to earn the endorsement of Doc Cheatham during the primary election, and as governor, I will elevate the critical voices of community leaders as we work toward our shared values and shared goals, including increased food security and economic empowerment,” said Moore’s statement.

“We will also explore options such as increasing support for food markets and community organizations serving communities with limited access to nutritious food options.”

Moore was born in Takoma Park, Md., but moved to the Bronx with his grandparents after his father’s death. When he was 14, his mom started working in Baltimore and they moved to Anne Arundel County, Md. 

Moore began to spend more time in the city, seeing first hand the disparities of the city. 

He grew up and enlisted in the military, serving as a captain and paratrooper with the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne.

Between 2017 and 2021, Moore was the CEO of Robin Hood Foundation, an organization which helped to combat issues of poverty in New York City. 

Today, Moore is poised to become governor of the state of Maryland.

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