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Interview with Dr. Kenneth Kolb, sociology professor and author of ‘Retail Inequality’

Last updated March 11, 2022

By Tina Underwood, Contributing Writer

The cover of Kenneth H. Cole's book "Retail Inequality"

Kolb’s book was released in December 2021.

Ken Kolb, professor and chair of the Department of Sociology at Furman University, goes on record about the country’s “exclusionary” food economy in an interview hosted by the Food Policy Center at Hunter College in New York City.

Drawing from his recently published book, “Retail Inequality: Reframing the Food Desert Debate,” Kolb commented on the No. 1 thing governments get wrong about inequality and food.

“Grocery stores are a necessary public good, even in places where they can’t turn a profit,” he said. “We don’t ask public libraries to generate a yield on investment, nor do we expect parks to pay quarterly dividends. The injustices of the past—primarily racist urban planning decisions of the post WWII era—have made quality food retail economically untenable in poor areas across the country. Today, these neighborhoods are left to live with the consequences of past mistakes not of their own making.

“Waiting for the population density and collective wealth to rise enough for a grocery store to return to their side of town is backwards thinking. Subsidize and incentivize grocery stores first and watch the population and economic base rebuild as a result. Leaving it to ‘the market’ to fix the problem will only prolong the suffering,” he added.

View the entire interview at the Hunter College New York City Food Policy Center.

Last updated March 11, 2022
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