Latham St. Commons

We are building a resilient and sustainable ecosystem of people working together to address all of the factors affecting access to good health—social support, health care, education, diet, employment, air and water quality.

Yinz Eat Here

This week, I told my friends I was looking to interview someone in the food service industry that lived in Friendship or Garfield. By chance, a classmate offered himself as a subject and we scheduled a time to talk.

Nick grew up in South Pittsburgh and our conversation included a discussion of his time as a stock boy at a Giant Eagle in Castle Shannon, his time as a caseworker with Catholic Charities where he served SNAP recipients and regularly interacted with food pantry programs, as well as his recent experiences shopping for food as a resident of Garfield.  As a new resident of this city, I am extremely grateful to him for sharing these experiences. 

One of my first questions was to ask how living in different neighborhoods in Pittsburgh have affected Nick's access to different foods. His answer led to further discussion about some neighborhoods being more connected to infrastructure than others.  When his family was living in Brookline with intermittent access to a car there was no direct access to a grocery store via city bus.  Instead, his mother would take a bus downtown then transfer to another one, adding two hours or more to every grocery shopping trip.  While neighborhoods have been described as food deserts based on distance from grocery stores, bus routes can still determine the severity of isolation from goods and services.

Before ending our conversation I asked Nick what his favorite Pittsburgh meal is. Turns out there is a place called Tom's Diner in Dormont that he has frequented at least once a month since he was 12 years old.  He recommends the Gyro Fries.  I hope we get to continue our discussion about food over a meal there soon.