BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Many in Birmingham do not have easy access to healthy food.
Today’s action by the council takes the city one step closer to eradicating food deserts. 69%, or 146,000 city residents live in USDA designated food deserts.
“Healthy foods are the cornerstone of a healthy community,” says Josh Carpenter with the City of Birmingham.
The Healthy Food Ordinance passed by the city council aims to make access to healthy foods a reality for those people.
“At the end of the day, what we’re trying to do is show our community that healthy residents make healthy workers and lead to a healthier economy,” says Carpenter.
According to Carpenter, studies show that Dollar Stores pull people away from healthy food purchasing. So this new ordinance creates an overlay district that would limit new development of small box discount stores, like Dollar General.
It will loosen parking and square footage restrictions on grocery stores and allow growers to sell their products right from the soil. Everyone who spoke at today’s meeting was in favor, however Reverend Majadi Baruti says the term “food desert” is misnomer.
“There is a brilliant food justice warrior named Karen Washington who uses the term “food apartheid”. Desert brings the idea that it’s a natural process of communities to lose food and that’s not a thing. This is not desertification that is happening in Birmingham and cities across the state. This is a purposeful construct. It is one that is historically based in racism,” said Baruti.
He says they all want to move toward food sovereignty, and that the people of the community could solve their problems themselves by way of building their own grocery stores with the help of the city.