Food Deserts

An image of somebody picking strawberries
Joseph Rodriguez / News & Record www.greensboro.com

Matthew King’s motto is simple: “think global but act local.”

For King, this is the solution to food insecurity. He is the executive director of Vision Tree Community Development Corporation, a nonprofit that helps Greensboro residents get food to their doorstep with mobile food markets. He said the basic idea of connecting urban farmers to local consumers can be applied anywhere in the world, but Greensboro needs it more than ever.

Flickr user Josh Mazgelis

A bipartisan group of North Carolina lawmakers is proposing a measure to get more fruits and vegetables to urban and rural areas devoid of grocery stores or healthful food options.

The plan, filed in separate bills in the House and Senate on Tuesday, would set aside $1 million for produce refrigerators and training for store owners in areas known as food deserts. There are more than 340 food deserts across 80 counties in the state, advocacy groups say.

Carol Jackson

Willie Latimore has a really hard time getting fresh food. He lost much of his right leg to diabetes a few years ago, and he uses a wheelchair to get around. He lives at Carriage House Apartments in Raleigh, where the rent is based on income.

Inter-Faith Food Shutt;e offerings
Inter-Faith Food Shuttle

The Triangle-based Inter-Faith Food Shuttle is helping feed kids that aren't getting enough to eat this summer. 

Officials with the charity say about 116,000 Triangle students receive free and reduced-price lunch during the school year. They say many low-income families have trouble making up for that nutrition when kids are out of school.  

Kyle Abrams manages child hunger programs for the Food Shuttle.  He says they're trying all sorts of ways to provide for the community.

A picture of fresh produce.
Jina Lee / Wikipedia

People living in a southeast Raleigh neighborhood have a new place to buy groceries. 

About 18 months ago, two Kroger stores closed forcing residents of the South Park area to travel long distances to find fresh, affordable food.  Two church groups working with volunteers, opened the Galley Grocery on Bragg Street late last month. 

Ashley Lee is a member of the Hope Community Church and helped get the new venture off the ground.  She said there are still some challenges to overcome.   
 

A picture of insulin vials and a syringe.
.:[ Melissa ]:. / Flickr

A report from Harvard University says one-in-10 North Carolinians has diabetes, and that the disease will cost the state $17 billion per year by 2025.

Sarah Downer is a fellow at Harvard's Health Law and Policy Clinic. She said limited access to healthcare, nutritious foods and safe places to exercise are dangerous to communities.

North Carolina has the fifth highest rate of food insecurity, meaning people don't have regular access to nutritious meals. The state also ranks fifth for early childhood obesity.

A shopper examines produce at Deep Roots grocery.
Deep Roots Coop

A committee from the North Carolina House of Representatives spent four months looking into how to address food deserts across the state.  Monday afternoon they made their proposals: to expand education about healthy eating and exercising habits across the state and to start a joint committee with members of the senate to continue looking at how to address the problem.

Urban Ministries of Durham's food pantry, which serves community members in need, tends to face extra demand after storms or bad weather.
Reema Khrais / WUNC

More universities in North Carolina are opening food pantries on campus to help hungry students and faculty. 

N.C. Central University started giving out food to its students earlier this week.  It's one of at least eight colleges and universities in the state that have opened food pantries in the last two years. 

Jason O'Briant is a dietetics professor at N.C. Central and helped start the school's pantry.  He says the need for food on college campuses is higher than expected, even for students who receive room and board.
 

Photo: Apples in a farmer's market
Amber Carnes via Flickr

North Carolina lawmakers are looking for ways they can help get fresh fruits and vegetables to corners of the state -- urban and rural -- where they’re difficult to access.

Non-profit organizations and local governments across the country have for years identified areas known as “food deserts” across the country, but the House Committee on Food Desert Zones is the first effort by state lawmakers to address the issue.

The food stand.
Inter-Faith Food Shuttle

Some capital city residents are getting access to farm fresh food months after two grocery stores closed in their area.  The Inter-Faith Food Shuttle of Raleigh is operating a weekly food stand in a church parking lot. 

The Raleigh Area Development Authority is helping to fund the shuttle's effort to keep the southeast part of the city from turning into a "food desert".  Cindy Sink is a spokeswoman with the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle.  She says the food stand adds to ongoing efforts.

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