Food Deserts in Charlotte: Areas That Lack Food Options
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Lawrence Hancock comes home from work, turns on the TV and heads straight for the fridge. He snacks on yogurt and a banana, saying "I really don't want a burger all the time."
Hancock says it's easy to find fast food in his neighborhood near Freedom Drive, but not much else. "Let's say, like, a farmer's market or something, we don't have that over here,” he says.
But that might change. The Mecklenburg County Health Department has partnered with UNC Charlotte and the Food Policy Council to study Charlotte's "food deserts.” The term is playing out through two phases of study; one being on areas that lack full service grocery stores. A full service grocery store is one that provide fruits and veggies, dairy, meat and processed foods. The food deserts also lack restaurant options. The deserts have been identified as the areas immediately north and west of Center City.
"You're paying now for good health or you'll pay later. It's really not an option to just shrug it off,” says Allison Mignery. She is a dietitian with the Health Department. Mignery says there are ways to infuse Charlotte's food deserts with healthier eating options, like through education, community gardens and even mobile farmers markets. She explains, "So, the idea of it, you think of an ice cream truck, but having it sell fresh fruits and vegetables, that's one recommendation we had."
Good news for Hancock, who believes he is what he eats, and doesn't want to be greasy and fried. "Nothing against all of those places because they're fine in a pinch, but I'm just talking about options, that's all I want," says Hancock.
City Councilman Warren Turner represents the west side. We asked him for his thoughts on bringing in healthier food options. He tells us that he's never heard of the term "food deserts" and went on to say that he “can't satisfy everybody."