Soon six stores in areas of Eastern North Carolina that are considered food deserts will be able to provide fresh fruits and vegetables for customers, thanks to a grant program through the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
In the past two state budgets, lawmakers have given $250,000 to the department to reimburse small food retailers in areas considered food deserts for refrigeration equipment, display shelving and other equipment to ensure they can sell fresh fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods. Small food retailers are considered to be less than 3,000 heated square feet with a limited selection of food and other products — including corner stores, convenience stores and even bodegas.
In fiscal year 2016-17, the state allocated the first $250,000, and then another $250,000 for the 2017-18 fiscal year. The initial allocation is going to help six stores in the eastern part of the state: Black Rock Deli in Bertie County’s Merry Hill community, Stella’s I in Elizabeth City, Tina’s Country Cupboard in southern Bladen County, Hwy 242 Grill near Elizabethtown, Food Mart in Jacksonville and One Stop Shop, also in Jacksonville.
Each store is eligible for up to $25,000…