New market fights Birmingham food deserts - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

New market fights Birmingham food deserts

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -

When a neighborhood has few options for fresh fruits and vegetables, it is considered a public health issue. They are called "food deserts" because they are neighborhoods that lack access to fresh food.

The organization "Main Street Birmingham" says nearly 90,000 people in the city live on blocks where "mainstream" grocers are distant and unhealthy selections like junk food are readily available.

The "Southwest Fresh Market" on the Lawson State Community College campus offers an alternative for nearby residents. The market will feature farmers selling fresh fruits and vegetables.

Main Street, Project Hopewell and the Mayor's Office of Economic Development stress it is important. Research finds people, particularly children, in places deemed "food deserts" suffer a higher rate of diet-related health problems. The idea here is to respond with a simple market. It provides a need at an affordable price and creates jobs and supports local farmers.           

"Where a grocery store may not be able to work economically, a public market can.  And it puts people in direct access and direct contact with the people that are growing the food and therefore make it much more affordable for the community," said David Fleming with Main Street Birmingham.

The market is the latest step in combating food deserts. Previously, Main Street organized curb markets. The Lawson State site is an example of finding public locations to establish more permanent fresh markets.

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