The “New” New Orleans?


The St. Roch Market was established in 1875 at the heart of what was an old creole neighborhood with a proud history. The market represented a symbol of community in the St. Roch area for 130 years, providing a familiar space for New Orleanians to enjoy their two true loves: music and food. The Market, however, did not survive Hurricane Katrina. For more than a decade after, citizens grew to forget all that the shuttered building on St. Claude Ave. once was.

Until now. Just recently, St. Roch Market reopened, showcasing a diverse supply of local produce, sundries and prepared foods from 13 individual vendors. The new market created nearly 100 new jobs and 13 new businesses, in addition to establishing a grocery supplier in what had become an underserved food desert. The market organizers commit to serving the community through an emphasis on local products and local talent. It has been said that the reopening of the market represents the new New Orleans, as the organizers strive to reach a progressive, re-energizing goal. The organizers stated, “We believe in the vibrance of the community, its potential, and are making these things actionable through our commitment to apprenticeship, employment, and engagement. Come one; come all.”

However, not all community members believe that last part. Some contend that the cost of food at the market is just too high to truly be an inviting place for all people of New Orleans, including many who live nearest to the market. In this light, one may question if the entrepreneurs behind the creation of the new St. Roch Market may have missed the mark in genuinely serving those with the greatest need for the neighborhood food provider. Could a project meant for revitalization end up causing gentrification?

It is far too soon to come to any sort of conclusion, as the market has been open for only a few weeks. Regardless of any criticism, this encouraging social venture will need support in order to innovatively solve the problems it aims to address. How will St. Roch Market reach its full potential? Contention, if anything, invites input from all community members. So, what’s your idea?