The lack of quality grocery stores continues to be a huge problem for the residents of South Dallas.
More than 700,000 people live in "food deserts," which are low-income neighborhoods that have limited access to supermarkets. According to the Health and Wellness Alliance for Children (HWAC), nearly 245,000 children are among that group.
The non-profit collaborated with Children at Risk to start a "Healthy Corner Store Network." Both organizations, along with Children's Health Hospital, Grow North Texas, Dallas Independent School District, United Way and community farmers helped to pilot a healthy corner store in east Dallas, just south of Interstate-30.
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"It all started with children's health," said Cheryl McCarver with Health and Wellness Alliance for Children. "We understand that its important for us to show up outside of our clinical space, and into the community space where our families grow up, live, work, worship, and play," said McCarver.
HWAC picked Hackney Foods, off Collins in Mill City, to pilot their "Healthy Corner Store Network."
"I tried to bring in vegetables and fruits years ago," said Alex Tarekegne, who has owned the store for 18 years. "This time it was different. With everyone's help we were able to make a difference. My store is known for the meat. People can buy every kind of meat here, but now people come in and get cabbage, potatoes, tomatoes, and peppers. The kids love the apples and oranges," he said.
Tarekegne has had such a great response at Hackney Food, he decided to use this model at his second store.
HWAC developed a "Healthy Food Finance Initiative" proposal for the city of Dallas, to implement this model through the southern region of the city. The non-profit would like to supply healthy produce to at least 25 stores within the next year.
According to HWAC, a Healthy Corner Store Network would offer:
- Additional healthy food options for families
- Increased opportunities for nutrition education and health screenings
- Potential to drive up economic value and job growth
- Additional tax revenue for the City of Dallas
To join the #EatFreshDallas movement and spread awareness, visit the group's website.