Today, the same day on which they ran a piece about prejudice against the obese, the Times ran an article about two of the cheap pizza places in Hells Kitchen, 99¢ Fresh Pizza and 2 Bros. Pizza. I pass these every day as I go about my errands. I can see another place whenever I look out my window, and it’s always busy in there. I’ve had the pizza once that I can remember, and while it wasn’t out of this world, it functioned the way a piece of pizza should function.
One thing that struck me was when Abdul Mohammad, the owner of the 99¢ Fresh chain, shared that his inspiration for selling 99-cent slices was the homeless, who used a 24-hour drop-in shelter at Ninth Ave and 41st Street right near where the pizza stand is located. “If they want to buy Chinese food, they need $4,” Mr. Mohammad said. “For a slice, it’s $2.50. I think about these people. I say, ‘I want to do something for these people.’”
While I like his thinking, it seems so wrong that there aren’t enough healthy options for people with limited funds. Granted, you can do a lot worse than a slice of pizza—the slices in this article are a relatively healthy size compared to what you get elsewhere in the city—but I’d like to see vendors offering healthier fare at a low price.
I can’t tell you how many articles I’ve read that discuss the high obesity rates in low-income areas. While I think it’s important to know your customers and cater to their needs, providing cheap calories isn’t enough. I refuse to believe that it’s impossible to make a profit on food that is both healthy and affordable. It’s worth brainstorming about, that’s for sure. I think that as a culture, we aren’t being as creative as we could be.