Tom Barton wrote about the new Food Lion supermarket, slated for construction on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, in his Savannah Morning News Column yesterday and reveals it was his first encounter with the concept of a food desert, which he describes as “an area where residents must travel vast distances to do their grocery shopping.” Perhaps a better name for this neighborhood and others like it is a food swamp, “a geographic area where the overabundance of high-energy foods (for example, caloric snacks sold at convenience stores) inundate healthy food options.”
Whatever the term, studies have linked the preponderance of unhealthy food in poorer urban (and rural) neighborhoods as a contributing factor in all sorts of health issues. Still, while Barton laments “the pitiful selection of produce” available at the Choose Market located near the site of the new store, it’s worth noting that some of the healthiest produce to be found anywhere in the region can be purchased just a couple blocks east. The Forsyth Farmers Market is open every Saturday through Nov. 20. A program called Wholesome Wave, “doubles the value of Federal Food Stamps, now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program,” when used at the market.
Barton does make a good point, though, that the new Food Lion’s impact will go beyond nutrition, writing, “In terms of re-energizing this struggling corridor south of the I-16 flyover, this project isn’t just big. It’s humongous.” He’s also correct in has assessment of the store as a “big plus” for folks without cars.