Wilmington teams up with non-profits to end local food deserts
WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The City of Wilmington announced it will invest $200,000 from the American Rescue Plan funds into combatting food insecurity and eliminating food deserts, partnering with local non-profits to do it.
The Food Bank of Eastern North Carolina , Feast Down East and Northside Food Co-op are focusing on Wilmington’s Northside near Houston Moore housing and the Southside on Greenfield Street.
The city said more than 16,000 people in New Hanover County live in food deserts, where people have to walk or commute more than a mile for fresh food.
“Food deserts have become a challenge for low income neighborhoods,” said Beth Gaglione with the Food Bank of North Carolina.
Those who live on Greenfield Street and Houston Moore have lived in a food desert for years ever since Everybody’s Grocery Store burned down in 2018. This makes it difficult to get fresh produce each week.
“If you told everybody in New Hanover County that they had to rely on public transportation to get to a grocery store to buy there,” Said city councilman Charlie Rivenbark, “they couldn’t buy a weeks groceries. Because they can’t carry it.”
That’s why Tuesday, the city announced it is investing $200,000 to solve the problem. Using the American Rescue Plan funds, Feast Down East will create a Learning Community Garden behind the new Food Bank of Eastern North Carolina headquarters on Greenfield street.
“It will just be an opportunity for people to remember the land and come back to the land and understand how to provide for themselves in that way,” said Northside Food Co-op’s Cierra Washington.
The new food bank will feature a kitchen a distribution center to supply local non-profits with boxes of food, and a market with fresh, affordable produce and meat for Southside residents to shop.
“We want to make sure that our community has access to fresh and affordable produce,” said Washington, “fresh and affordable meats. And then also that community aspect of let’s learn together how to use this produce, let’s learn together how to cook these meats and meal prep together.”
The Northside Co-op will focus on helping men and women in the Northside community, meeting basic needs and investing in the area.
“We are all about empowering our community so that they can be and live the best lives that they want to live,” Washington explained.
The Food Bank of Eastern North Carolina will break ground in January 2022, opening in November.
With the new space, they’ll be able to cook food for community members during hurricanes and add Duplin to the counties they serve.