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Talbotton natives address food desert problem

Published: Feb. 7, 2022 at 7:05 PM EST
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TALBOTTON, Ga. (WTVM) - A national and statewide problem hitting home in the Chattahoochee Valley.

Nearly two million residents in both Georgia and Alabama, including half a million children in each state, live in food deserts.

People in Talbot County have been living in one for nearly two decades. They have to travel nearly an hour each way to buy fresh food.

But thanks to some Talbotton natives, a much-needed grocery store could soon be coming to the town if a USDA grant is approved.

“The only grocery store that we have, would be going to Columbus, Georgia or Atlanta to get groceries because there’s nothing around here,” Vickie Moreland, who lives in Talbotton said.

Moreland works at a food mart in the heart of the town. She tells Leader 9 that the store offers some canned goods at times, but people mostly come in to buy lottery tickets and drinks.

She said she remembers years ago when a Piggly Wiggly was open, but nowadays, she said the endeavor to have fresh food is more expensive than ever.

“It’s horrible,” Moreland expressed. “A lot of us don’t have transportation, you know? You’ve got to find transportation then pay someone to take you. Pay somebody to wait on you to get your groceries. Pay them to bring you back. You’re spending a lot of money we really don’t have.”

“We’re experiencing a loss,” Willie Terry, Talbotton native, said. “We don’t have anything down here. We have to go out of our way to Columbus, Georgia or to Manchester, Georgia to buy a decent meal and get some food.”

But relief could be on the horizon. Talbotton native Ken Lockhart and other community members are now working together to write a USDA grant to help fund a big project. If approved, the money would go towards opening a grocery store and building affordable housing and training centers.

Lockhart explained the lack of access to fresh food has a large impact on the overall Talbot County community.

“Child development - if you don’t have access to fresh food, fresh vegetables, fresh meat, they end up eating processed foods which also leads to health issues,” Lockhart told us. “A lot of people in my community suffer from diabetes and hypertension, so it’s really just a trickle down effect.”

“It’s very important,” Terry said. “I can’t put it into words. From zero to ten, I’ll put it at an 11. They need one bad.”

Lockhart said they plan to submit that grant at the end of this month, and they should hear back by mid-April.

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