Birmingham considers roving stores to fill food gaps

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Birmingham is considering whether to allow mobile grocery stores to fill a gap in residential areas where healthy food options aren’t available.

The Community Food Bank of Central Alabama already operates a truck that sells fruit, fresh vegetables and dairy products in so-called food deserts, according to a report by WBRC-TV.

City leaders are considering a plan to expand such offerings as part of an initiative by Mayor Randall Woodfin.

Mobile stores wouldn’t be allowed on vacant lots, and they couldn’t operate within 1,000 feet of stores that sell similar food items. They could set up shop in commercial area and neighborhoods.

About 70% of Birmingham’s 210,000 residents live in areas that don’t have stores offering healthy food, and the problem has gotten worse because of store closings in recent years. City Council member John Hilliard said the plan sounds like a good way to make healthy food more accessible.

“The mobile grocery stores are an excellent idea to help get that into our communities that will bring fruits and vegetables for seniors and for younger people so they will have access to them,” Hilliard said.

Amie Evans, a senior citizen who lives in an area without a grocery store, said she would like to see a new one open, even if it’s in a truck.

“Long as everything is fresh and up to par, grade A, it will be a big help,” Evans said.

The city also is attempting to recruit new companies to operate stores and considering incentives to lure grocers back into some areas. Woodfin has proposed limiting stores that sell low-cost, heavily processed food.

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Information from: WBRC-TV, http://www.myfoxal.com/

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