By Rosetta Miller Perry
Through all my years of being an advocate for the less fortunate community, there’s one constant I’ve noticed in every Nashville city administration. Simply put, they don’t care much about poor people. They care even less if they’re Black and Brown and poor, and they don’t make an attempt at showing concern for their plight even when running for office. This administration was supposed to be different, but they’ve just shown us one more time they’re no different than their predecessors, and certainly no better. Black and brown Nashville citizens in the James Cayce Homes neighborhood once a week take a bus from the Martha O’Bryan Center to Walmart and Kroger. Now you might ask don’t they need the service more than once a week? But that’s another question for another time. The key thing to remember here is at least they were able to get food once a week. But suddenly last week that stopped. It seems there’s a kid’s summer camp that needs a bus, and of course there’s no other bus except the one used for the Cayce Homes residents to purchase their groceries.
So how do they get to the Kroger or Aldi? Well, they can hike over and catch the #4 bus that goes to Kroger in Inglewood. That’s if they are healthy and don’t mind a 30-60 minute walk in either blistering heat or rain. And the Eastland Kroger and an Aldi close to it are the only realistic options these people have. The words of one frustrated woman who has used this bus every week for six years sums it up perfectly. She told WTVF5 “People depend on that bus because we have to walk like a little ways to the bus stop. Who wants to put a lot of groceries on the bus, like the city bus? A lot of people depend on that bus.” Here’s the center’s explanation for this, courtesy of one Peter Martino. “We do have a bus that goes to Wal-Mart. It used to be once a week, we bumped it up to twice a week. We have summer camp going on right now during the month of June, and so we have a temporary scheduling conflict here in the neighborhood,” Martino said. Martino said the center offers a food bank, cooking class, and Second Harvest Food Bank provides a service truck once a week. Martino acknowledged some current vans are being serviced, but the Martha O’Bryan Center recently received a donation to purchase two 15-passenger vans. The vans will eventually also be used for grocery runs.’ He did not say this year or 5 years from now or just when the vans will run for those in need of groceries.
Former Martha O’Bryan Center family resource center director Gicola Lane put this all in perspective in her response. “It was surprising to me and disappointing.,” Lane said. “Residents have been conveying their frustration with how the city and the non-profit that sits here and is suppose to serve them just feels like they’re being ignored. I think there are alternatives that can happen that will not take the bus service from the residents. The camp has been going on for years and we still had the bus service going on and people knew what time we were making our routes. This was a regular program that happened consistently.” She added the residents are now living in a food desert. Family Dollar located near Cayce Homes closed a few weeks ago and Bill Martin’s Food store on Fatherland Street closed after 58 years of business in the area, making the need for a bus even greater. “I think people are not aware of what people go through at Cayce. No one knows, no one pays attention enough. I think we have to be more intentional about caring for our communities that are stripped from resources. The only resource that I see of public city services that is always here is the police. Besides that we don’t see a lot of public services that is being sent to Cayce which is one of the largest communities that need it,” Lane said. So the residents have to deal with this for at least two more weeks.
Meanwhile, where is the city administration? What are they doing about this situation? Are people supposed to starve for two weeks? You better believe that if this situation occurred in Brentwood or Belle Meade, no one would think it made sense to wait two weeks to fix it. But when you have poor people with limited resources and apparently no clout (except for voting) or people in high places willing to speak for them, you get this kind of mierda. We have a word for this. Actually several, but only one that we can use in a family newspaper. GARBAGE/BASIRA.