Shelby County Commission works to alleviate food deserts

(SOURCE: WMC Action News 5)
(SOURCE: WMC Action News 5)

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A trip to the grocery store is a common thing for most people, but something that is also easily taken for granted. For those who live in a food desert, fresh food is likely a rarity.

But now, local leaders are promising to change that through action.

"They're some real challenges in these communities, but these are viable, healthy communities," County Commissioner Reginald Milton said.

Memphis is no stranger to food deserts. In fact, it's home to many of them.

Food deserts are usually defined as an urban area where it's difficult to purchase or afford healthy food.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture describes it as a community where at least 500 people live more than one mile from a supermarket or large grocery store. For rural areas it's more than 10 miles.

On Monday, the Shelby County Commission toured communities in need with it's federal government relation team. The tour will help Shelby County make sure it's getting the funds necessary to help citizens in need.

They loaded up a MATA bus and hit the streets.

Milton said it's just one step in securing resources.

"Trying to bring as many services into these areas is critical and don't think this is just us coming in, taking a look, and going away," Milton said.

In Soulsville and Orange Mound, where the commissioners toured, they said it's about more than bringing in grocery stores. They said it is about changing the perception of crime and bringing in new business.

It's all part of a larger plan that includes providing tax incentives and partnering with small business owners while balancing gentrification.

"The concept that the boat rises for everyone," Milton said. "It's true, but you can't do it if the boat has holes in it."

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