City of Wilmington pledges $200,000 to organizations tackling food insecurity

City of Wilmington pledges $200,000 to fight food insecurity
Published: Oct. 5, 2021 at 5:05 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The lot that used to be the Everybody’s Supermarket on Greenfield Street will soon be the new location for the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina, but that’s just the beginning of what a new partnership between the city and area organizations will bring.

Mayor Bill Saffo announced Tuesday that $200,000 will go to area organizations, funded by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

“There are many pockets of town, geographic locations where communities have to travel further than a mile to get to a grocery store,” said Cierra Washington with Northside Food Co-Op. The Co-Op will receive $125,000 of the donation.

The southside area on Greenfield Street has dealt with a food desert since the Everybody’s Supermarket burned down in 2018. Now, neighbors have to travel more than a mile to a nearby Food Lion.

A mile may not sound like much, but it’s a struggle for those without transportation. The bus system has a bag limit that prevents full grocery store trips and walking over a mile with multiple bags of food isn’t realistic for many. If they do manage the hike, families might not have the energy to cook a healthy meal afterward.

Residents of the city’s Northside are dealing with similar problems. That’s something the Northside Food Co-op hopes to put an end to, by bringing more grocery stores to the neighborhood so families can better feed themselves.

“It’ll allow us salaries to be able to continue working,” said Washington. “It’ll allow us funds to be able to move forward with the next phase of our project which is a pilot store which we hope to open in January 2022 and it’ll also give us some stability to keep moving forward.”

“We’ve got some areas of our community that have high pockets of poverty, so what we can do to bridge that gap and get nutritious food to people so they can eat and be healthy is very important,” said Mayor Saffo. “More important is the opportunity to be able to have a grocery store or co-op near their place where they can just walk in and get the food.”

While the Northside Food Co-op plans to take care of the food desert problem in one area, the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina eyes a new location at the former site of Everybody’s Supermarket. Leaders hope to break ground at the start of the new year. When the doors open in November 2022, residents can take advantage of new opportunities that the food bank will be able to offer.

“One will be a commercial kitchen where we hope to be able to invite the community in to learn things like health education and cooking good, healthy, nutritious, dense food and the other will be a fresh food market that really will be here for the people in this neighborhood,” said Beth Gaglione, the food bank’s branch manager.

The remaining $75,000 of the city’s commitment will go to Feast Down East to expand its mobile market, bringing fresh food to 2,000 people and growing.

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