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What's for Dinner? Food Deserts in North Carolina Communities

Photo: Emmons founded Sow Much Good to help feed communities in need. Courtesy: Sow Much Good
Photo: Emmons founded Sow Much Good to help feed communities in need. Courtesy: Sow Much Good
February 25, 2014

CORNELIUS, N.C. - Not everyone in North Carolina has access to affordable, fresh food, and this week state lawmakers are taking up the problem of "food deserts" and what to do about them. The term refers to communities without retailers of wholesome food. A bill (HB 957) before the State Assembly aims to encourage the delivery and availability of nutrient-rich foods in identified food-desert zones.

According to Robin Emmons of Charlotte, the founder of Sow Much Good, which aims to provide direct access to affordable and fresh food to communities that face food insecurity, something needs to be done.

"It's a huge problem and, of course, those are the populations where disproportionately they're suffering from chronic illnesses that are really really directly related to lifestyle, and that specifically goes to their nutritional intake," she said.

The Food Desert Zones bill was discussed in a House Committee on Food Desert Zones on Monday. Since 2008, Sow Much Good has donated two tons of organic fruits and vegetables to food-assistance programs. The organization also sells produce at reduced prices at stands in low-income neighborhoods.

Emmons said one way lawmakers could help alleviate the problem in food deserts is to tie providing quality, healthy food to a store's ability to accept SNAP benefits.

"Any retailer that pops up a store is allowed to accept SNAP benefits. You should be required, in my opinion, to carry some real food - not just a package of hot dogs and a loaf of foam-white bread," Emmons declared.

The Food Desert Zones Bill was initially introduced last year, but failed to make it to a vote.

Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service - NC