More mobile grocery stores could soon fill Birmingham’s “food deserts”

New ordinance would allow for mobile grocer

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Birmingham’s mayor is promising to bring more healthy food options to areas of the city known as “food deserts”.

Amie Evans lives in food desert in Druid Hills. She along with about 70% of Birmingham's population are without healthy food options. She would love to see a grocery store come back.

"It’s frustrating because we had to get used to have food fair on Carraway Boulevard that was the last grocery store,” Evans said. “Anything that’s convenient. People might come back into our area. We need to build it back up like it used to be.”

In the meantime, Evans could see mobile grocery stores pop up. It’s apart of Mayor Randall Woodfin’s healthy food initiative. The Community Food Bank of Central Alabama already operates one. The “Corner Market” is a one-aisle grocery store offering fresh vegetables, fruits, meats, dairy and dry goods to people who live in food deserts.

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

The Committee of the Whole found out about the plan this week. Councilor John Hilliard is on board with it.

"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.

If the plan passes, mobile grocery stores will be allowed in commercial and residential neighborhoods. One of the goals is limiting places that offer junk food such as dollar stores from spreading in Birmingham.

“Kids when they don’t eat right, they can’t go to school and think and be aware and be alert and what we want to do is get healthy groceries and hopefully this will incentivize some of our dollar stores and some of those other stores in the community to start bringing healthy foods into our areas. These places are making a lot of money off of our community,” Hilliard said.

The mobile stores will not be allowed on vacant lots and not allowed within 1,000 feet of stores that sell similar things. Operating hours will vary with the stores opening at 7 a.m. and closing between 7 and 10 p.m. depending on their location.

We’ll let you know when the plan comes up for a vote.

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