N.C. Dept. of Ag to help bring healthier options to food deserts

Eamon Queeney—The North State Journal
Kim Kornegay-LeQuire shows off sweet potato seed at the Kornegay Family Farms outside of Princeton in Johnston County

RALEIGH — The N.C. Department of Agriculture announced a fund to provide healthier food options for people living in food deserts in Eastern North Carolina. Corner stores can apply by Dec. 31 to receive funding to reimburse them for installing refrigerators, freezers and stocking equipment needed to store healthier food items. The Healthy Food Small Retailer Program is leading the pilot program, which was established with the 2016 state budget bill. “There are 349 food deserts across our state, affecting about 1.5 million North Carolinians,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “Corner stores and convenience stores are integral parts of their communities, and can play an important role in bring healthy local foods to the neighborhoods they serve.”Stores that wish to participate must be located in the following counties: Beaufort, Bertie, Bladen, Brunswick, Camden, Carteret, Chowan, Columbus, Craven, Currituck, Dare, Duplin, Edgecombe, Franklin, Gates, Granville, Greene, Halifax, Hertford, Hyde, Johnston, Jones, Lenoir, Martin, Nash, New Hanover, Northampton, Onslow, Pamlico, Pasquotank, Pender, Perquimans, Pitt, Robeson, Sampson, Tyrrell, Wake, Warren, Washington, Wayne, Wilson, Vance.Program coordinator Melissa Walter said the counties selected were chosen to address the food deserts in the area and to support counties who were affected by the recent flooding and needed assistance.