Leaders look to address food deserts across Mecklenburg County

Updated: Jan. 12, 2021 at 11:25 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - As the pandemic continues, there is another glaring need across Mecklenburg County. On Tuesday, county commissioners were updated on research related to food deserts.

“We see there are 24 census tracks that would be identified as food desert,” said Adrian Cox.

The USDA defines a food desert as an area with low-income and low-access to a supermarket or large grocery store.

In the 24 areas, there are more than 11, 000 children considered low access. Just over 4,500 homes don’t have access to a vehicle, according to data shown during the presentation.

“We can’t afford to fail so we really need to be careful about which options we choose,” said Commissioner Leigh Altman.

Some of the options include providing incentives to grocery stores to build in areas deemed necessary. Another option that was discussed is adding mobile markets that would be able to serve multiple areas -- working as a mobile grocery store.

“Out of all the options I feel the mobile market is the best...we really do need to be helping people right now,” Altman added.

The presentation also included an initiative to expand the Super SNAP food program which would give clients $40 per month as an additional benefits on fruits and vegetables.

For immediate help, a pilot program would work with corner stores to provide refrigeration units to place fresh produce.

“The corner store refrigeration, big thumbs up from me. That is something we can do now,” said Commissioner Elaine Powell.

The next steps include evaluating the proposals and to expand food security initiatives.

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