GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — People in east Greensboro could have a decade shaved off their life, according to City Council Member Goldie Wells.
She tells FOX8 people in her district are dying earlier than people in west Greensboro. She believes it’s because of a lack of access to pharmacies, doctors and grocery stores.
The problem started in 1998 when several large chain grocery stores closed. It turned parts of their community into food deserts.
Now, over a dozen areas in Guilford County fall in to the category.
“Over here there’s not a lot of options so I usually drive out…sometimes I go five or six miles out,” said Charmain Smith, an east Greensboro resident.
She drives to the Food Lion on East Market Street when she has time. Often times, the shelves aren’t full.
“You will have to go to another Food Lion to find half the stuff you want because everyone that’s in this area goes to that store,” Smith said.
Another challenge is the price of gas. More people are walking miles to get the food they need.
“The busses went up $1.50. Now how are you going to get your groceries home?” said Alice Jenkins. “We got buggies so we can push them back to the house.”
Corner shops and smaller convenience stores don’t stock the healthier options councilwoman Goldie Wells wants people to have.
She’s watched many bigger stores bypass the area.
“The chain grocery stores, they have criteria, how many cars go up and down the street, is there a traffic signal there, what is the income of the folk around it, how many houses have the median income?” Wells said.
She values the food bank and other outreach programs giving people meals, but it doesn’t fix the bigger problem.
“When someone gives you something, you get a box. That box has in it what they decide,” Wells said. “If you had your own money, you could go to your own store. You could buy what you want. There’s a sense of pride there also.”
Wells says she’s working with other city leaders to bring options to the northeast district but wants to remind people to be patient.
In the meantime, she’s highlighting other businesses helping people in the area live healthier lives like a new pharmacy and doctors office.