Eating healthy in a food desert: Mecklenburg leaders seek new solutions

By |2022-03-09T17:07:49+00:00April 6, 2020|Comments Off on Eating healthy in a food desert: Mecklenburg leaders seek new solutions

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Youth working at the Seeds of Change Urban Farm, a quarter-acre farm in the West Boulevard Corridor where neighbors grow fresh, healthy food for the community – a response to the lack of grocery stores in their neighborhoods. Photo courtesy Rickey Hall

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_empty_space height=”22px”][vc_column_text]Article from UNC Charlotte Urban Institue by Jonathan McFadden

Mecklenburg County leaders are trying to find solutions for a worsening food crisis in the county’s poorest neighborhoods.

Nearly 15 percent of the county’s population lives in what the U.S. Department of Agriculture calls food deserts — low-income communities where most residents don’t have access to a full-service grocery store or supermarket carrying nutritious food. That figure exceeds the national average of 11 percent and North Carolina’s statewide average of 13 percent.

“Population density probably has a lot to do with” the higher number, said Mecklenburg County Public Health Director Gibbie Harris. “If you look at Mecklenburg County, it’s mostly city. In rural communities, people can have gardens. People need cars to get around. They can get to the grocery store.”

But that’s not reality for many living in the county’s low-income neighborhoods, where poverty, lack of transportation and race intersect with poor diets, health problems and gaps in resources. Despite spending $160 million last year to help feed needy families, the problem persists in Mecklenburg.

“When I hear stats (about food deserts), I know it’s true because I lived there,” said Ashanti Selassie, who manages an urban farm intended to fight food insecurity in east Charlotte. “I know what availability of food people have in the east, west, north and south of the city. I know what they don’t have access to.”

So does lifelong west Charlottean Brenda Campbell. When she was a little girl, she […]