Rural towns considered food deserts by USDA - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Rural towns considered food deserts by USDA

(Source: KAIT) (Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT) (Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT) (Source: KAIT)
SHARP COUNTY, AR (KAIT) -

There are several areas in Region 8 that are considered food deserts by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

A food desert is an area where low-income families have low access to fresh and healthy foods because they are more than 10 miles away from a grocery store or market in rural areas.

This week, Amazon announced an initiative to help people in those areas by accepting food stamps for deliveries. It is a pilot program in just a few states right now, but the company hopes to expand on it later.

According to the USDA, Evening Shade is in the middle of a food desert in Sharp County.

City Council member Angela Haley said most people drive either to the Ash Flat Walmart or to the Cave City Hometown Market for groceries.

She said it’s not really a big deal to residents, though.

“No we’re not a big city and big area, but that’s part of life,” Haley said.

She doesn’t think people would take advantage of Amazon’s service if it expanded to Arkansas.

“We have basically a lot of elderly people that live here, so they’re not going to take advantage of the Amazon deal because so many people don’t trust the computers,” Haley said.

There is a Dollar General and a Flash Market in Evening Shade for small needs, but those do not provide the fresh foods that the USDA recommends.

“We do have a restaurant here in town, Woodie’s Café, and he serves healthy foods,” Haley said. “He tries to serve better quality of food too.”

Haley said, for the most part, she thinks the grocery situation in Evening Shade is fine how it is.

“I mean, we’ve been used to being in a rural area, it’s just part of rural living,” she said. “And why change something if it’s not broken?”

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