Wendell Pierce is best-known for his role as Bunk in the HBO series "The Wire," and he currently plays a struggling trombonist in the series "Treme." But he's taking on a much different job these days in his hometown of New Orleans, where he is in the process of opening a chain of grocery stores meant to revitalize the city he loves.
Inspired by first lady Michelle Obama's healthful food financing initiative in 2011, Pierce and his partners created Sterling Farms, a grocery chain dedicated to eradicating food deserts in New Orleans.
The chain was created to meet a demand that other retailers weren't willing to gamble on supplying. According to Pierce, there are many neighborhoods in New Orleans that lack access to basic grocery store staples such as fresh produce and food staples. "There are so many communities that are undeserved…where people have to make a huge effort to just get to a grocery store. And I saw that happening all over New Orleans after Katrina. And here we are seven and a half years later…and there are still areas like the lower 9th Ward and New Orleans East that still don't have access to a decent grocery store."
Pierce believes that these grocery stores will help the restore the communities in which they're located. "It is the heart and soul of a community when you have access to fresh foods. It is the sustenance of life and the heartbeat of the community," he says.
"It's no longer acceptable to stand on the sidelines. If not now, when? If not me, who?" asks Pierce.