The lack of traditional grocery stores is an ongoing problem on the west side of Charlotte, and some parts in the east, an analysis of demographic and grocery store location data by The Charlotte Observer found.
What’s more, the disparities disproportionately affect people of color. About 38% of Charlotte’s Black residents — compared with 25% of its white residents — live more than 1 mile from a grocery store, the Observer found. The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines food deserts in urban areas as low-income census tracts — or neighborhoods — where at least 500 people, or 33% of the population, live more than a mile from a grocery store.
For areas that see few to no supermarkets, getting to where they do exist is made more challenging if they lack a car. That’s why public transportation also is a piece of the food desert puzzle.
“As Charlotte’s population grows, we want to make sure that people in neighborhoods throughout the city have access to essential amenities. That includes food,” said Meg Fencil, engagement and impact director for Sustain Charlotte. The nonprofit mostly focuses on transportation and land use issues. “A person could spend hours doing a simple grocery run,” Fencil said. “It’s hard to buy ice cream when you’re waiting on a bus that may or may not show up.”