The Greene County Health Department is calling for help in keeping Greene County from becoming a “Food Desert”.The Greene County Health Department is reacting to Wednesday’s announcement by Kroger that stores in White Hall and Carrollton will be closing by May 15th.
Health Department Administrator Molly Peters says the health department is deeply concerned after hearing the announcement. She says access to food is important and necessary for Greene County residents, and once these stores are gone, continued access to healthy food will not be as easy as some may think.
“There are many people who are traveling to the grocery store that are unable to drive. We have many walkers who need access to food. The need for food access is not just- well if we don’t have it in our community we can drive to Walmart down the road. We have a have 13% poverty rate in Greene County, and that’s higher than the state average of 11.5%. It’s definitely important for our residents to maintain access and maintain resources.”
Peters says the lack of access can have devastating effects on a community. Food deserts are geographic areas where access to affordable, healthy food options like fresh fruits and vegetables is limited or nonexistent because grocery stores are too far away.
She says the health department is would like to support any efforts in maintaining local grocery access for its residents however, in the immediate future, the Greene County Health Department will be calling Kroger Corporate daily to ask for time to prevent the closure of the stores in the next 30 days and is encouraging the community to call or email to voice their concerns.
She says they are reaching out to leaders near and far for support to keep much of Greene from becoming a food desert.
“What the health department is doing is just making it known and supporting that the need to reach out to Kroger Corporate. We are supporting efforts where people are critically thinking about strategic planning for the future. We reached out to our county board last night during their meeting.
We are reaching out to legislators and actually, we tagged the Governor as well in our post. Only because it is necessary to hear rural community voices and our needs and how we are impacted. We find that important to continue to voice and we will continue to do that.”
Peters says one need only look to a year ago to see the impact a lack of close services can have.
“One thing I just think about is just in a rural community, especially in a crisis such as March 2020, the foods, resources, toilet paper, everything was flying off the shelves and maintaining access especially in crisis mode, in a rural community we will be left without. That is a scary situation for many.
We’ve had many during that March 2020 incident that we had families that were unable to find baby food and diapers, and that became very critical and very concerning very fast. Even in crisis mode, maintaining access is necessary for a community.”
Peters says options like dollar stores do not always provide fresh foods or healthy choices to sustain those who are unable to travel longer distances to reach a grocery store.
She says the Greene County Health Department knows there are many minds creatively thinking right now, however, the prospect of the area becoming that food desert isn’t something to take lightly.
Kroger Corporate can be reached toll free at 1 (800) 576-4377