Making access to healthy foods in Lexington more convenient

DAVIDSON COUNTY, N.C. -- Located between Denton and Thomasville, the Patriot Market is a popular place to stop on Highway 109 in Davidson County. You can pick up the usual snacks you find at a gas station. Plus, store owner Matthew Shaffer says the convenience store is a good place to buy in-season fruits and vegetables.

"It's a no brainer. People want produce. They are already buying it and it`s just another addition to sell and at the same time it`s my passion," Shaffer said.

And what's happening in the county can happen in the city. The North Carolina Alliance for Health says 12 percent of people living in Lexington don't have access to healthy, affordable foods. The state-supported Healthy Corner Store Initiative can help solve the problem. By providing funds to small stores like gas stations, they can stock healthy alternatives. Davidson County Health Director Lillian Koontz says the Healthy Corner Store Initiative makes sense because people who can't drive to a grocery store can walk to the corner store.

"Type 2 diabetes, lots of chronic diseases are attributed to poor diets. So by having available, at a convenience store, fresh fruits and vegetables, they will choose that and we will have positive healthy outcomes," Koontz said.

Along with state-supported programs, local groups are working together to bring produce to Lexington. Clients of Davidson Medical Ministries Clinic receive in season fruits and vegetables from the Farm Bureau. Sandy Motley is the clinic's executive director. She says the contribution is motivating others to give.

"It has also encouraged some of our patients that live in the county and grow a big garden to bring some of their produce in and give it away as well," Motley said.

Lexington Mayor Newell Clark says the Lexington Farmers Market at the Depot is another source that can bring healthy choices to the 12 percent of residents that currently don't have a choice.

"I think our farmers market started small and became something people became aware of and access to and it continues to grow,” Clark said.