Columbia Food Policy Committee working to fight food deserts in the Midlands

Columbia Food Policy Committee working to fight food deserts in the Midlands

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - We’ve been extensively covering the closure of the Save-A-Lot on Harden Street and how it has created a food desert for the community that the grocery store served.

Along with that coverage, many of you have reached out to WIS to say that you, too, live in a food desert.

Members of the Columbia Food Policy Committee say they have been working to find temporary and long-term solutions for folks who depended on that Save-A-Lot because of its proximity and affordability.

But, they want to make sure that other residents who are living in food deserts in other parts of the county know they’re working to help them as well.

“We should make sure that no one has to deal with a situation like that,” said Ashley Page, the chair of the Columbia Food Policy Committee.

The Save-A-Lot on Harden Street is the latest grocery store to create yet another area food desert in the Midlands, but Ashley Page says it’s not alone.

“These communities are continuing to lose vital parts of their community where they can access healthy foods to feed their families,” Page said.

An urban food desert is often defined as a low-income area of more than 500 people who don’t have a large grocery store or supermarket within a mile. While COMET now offers special promotions with Lyft and Uber to help alleviate some of those issues of getting to the grocery store, Page says it’s important to note that, not everyone has a smartphone.

“Just because a lot of us have technology, a lot of us have the money, the resources to get to where we want to go,” Page said. “Not everyone has that. I think that’s something we have to be mindful of and not put judgments on folks, or assumptions on folks. That ‘Oh well you can easily just catch the bus.’ Imagine carrying two children with grocery bags, having to walk up hills, downhills. Imagine. We’re in 90-degree heat.”

COMET does offer an option for those without a smart phone. People needing a ride can call 803-255-7124.

There is also a bus route that goes to a nearby Food Lion -- Route 22.

The Food Policy Committee is actively working to try and get grocery stores back in a lot of these food deserts…and they want to let the residents who have been struggling know they aren’t forgotten.

“Our goal is to make sure all communities in the city,” Page. “All communities in the county. Have the right to have healthy nutritious affordable food in their community.”

In rural areas, if you’re more than ten miles from a grocery store or large supermarket, it’s considered a food desert.

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