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Initative Launched To Improve Healthy Food Choices
Written by Bruce Ferrell   
Tuesday, 27 August 2013 02:44

RALEIGH  - An effort is underway to make sure people in areas underserved by grocery stores and farmer's markets have better access to fresh foods and vegetables. Supporters say it could be another way to combat the ongoing problem with obseity and poor nutrition.

The Support Center in Raleigh is offering a new loan program for entrepreneurs who want to bring fresh produce to underserved communities. According to the organization's president, Lenwood Long, fresh produce is hard to come by in North Carolina's "food deserts."

"You will not find fresh vegetables and fruit" in such places, he said. "You'll find the sweets that will not lead to a healthy diet."

Food deserts describe urban areas where it's difficult to find affordable or good-quality fresh food. Some 171 communities in North Carolina are thus described. The resources available for entrepreneurs interested in changing the situation in such places are listed in the Healthy Food Resource Guide available on The Support Center's website.

Long said they are encouraging such projects as the creation of community gardens, mobile food trucks and door-to-door vegetable sales.

The Support Center recently gave a loan to a Durham corner store to rehab its building. Peter Skillern, the executive director of Reinvestment Partners in Raleigh, helped initiate the project and noted that an accessible place to buy fresh produce has an immediate effect on the residents.

"There's a sense of optimism and hope that's created, to take a corner store that's scary and distressed and turning it into a friendly community market," Skillern declared. "That's a benefit immediately."

Lenwood Long said the new loan program aims to help create jobs and advance the entire community.

He cited "the impact in economic development. The impact on education. It's all impacted by the lack of healthy food in these areas."

The Healthy Food Resource Guide also offers information on other sources of funding, beyond the loans available from The Support Center.

(With Assistance from Stephanie Carson, North Carolina News Service)

Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 August 2013 02:49
 
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