Governor Kay Ivey awarded $300,000 in grants to provide fresh, healthy food for low-income families and senior citizens across the state during a ceremony at the state Capitol on Wednesday.
The seven grants will help businesses and non-profit organizations establish programs and projects for those communities within the state who have little to no access to grocery stores. They will also allow families and senior citizens to more easily obtain healthy grocery items including fresh fruits and vegetables.
The projects range from an open-air market in Mobile to a new grocery store in Cherokee.
The goal of the program is to reduce the number of “food deserts.” The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines a food desert as a place where at least 33 percent of the population lives far from a store selling fresh, affordable produce — a mile or more away in urban areas or 10 miles in rural areas.
According to the Tuscaloosa News, “west Alabama has some of the highest percentages in the country of people living in food deserts. Almost 15 percent of residents in Sumter County do not live within a mile of a grocery store and do not have a vehicle. In Greene County, almost 14 percent of the population lives in those conditions. In Hale County, around 11 percent of the population have difficult access to healthy food, and in Perry County, which has two grocery stores in the entire county, almost 16 percent of the population do not have transportation and live far from fresh food.”
And in Birmingham, the most populated city in the state, 88,000 people live in a food desert, according to AL.com.
The grants were made possible through the Alabama Healthy Food Financing Act of which Ivey was a great major supporter when she served as lieutenant governor.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.