N.C. Lawmakers Propose Solutions to Alleviate Food Deserts

Plan would set aside $1 million for produce refrigerators and training for store owners.
March 24, 2015

RALEIGH – A bipartisan group of North Carolina lawmakers has proposed a measure to get more fruits and vegetables to urban and rural areas devoid of grocery stores or healthful food options. The plan, filed in separate bills in the House and Senate this week, would set aside $1 million for produce refrigerators and training for store owners in areas known as food deserts.

Two lead sponsors — state Reps. Yvonne Holly and Sen. Don Davis — said their concern grew after grocery stores in their districts closed in recent years. Holly’s district covers urban Southeast Raleigh while Davis’ district covers mostly rural Pitt and Greene counties. Their goals for the proposal are three-fold: To promote healthier eating, improve public health and help convenience stores in food deserts stay in business. Last year, NACS Magazine wrote about how NACS member David Rizek of Mark’s Food Market in Greenville, N.C., has found success — and a healthier life — since using a similar grant to launch fresh produce sales at his store.

The fund would be managed by the North Carolina Department of Commerce, and equipment and training would be prepared in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Health and Human Services and local health departments.

Earlier this month, NACS partnered with the United Fresh Produce Association to publish the primer, “Building the Business Case for Produce Sales at Convenience Stores,” to provide guidance on how to sell more produce in convenience store. The free publication combines analysis of industry and consumer trends with practical ideas to develop an enhanced produce offering in stores. Read more about it here.