Quantcast

Special Report: 4-State Food Deserts - KOAM TV 7

Special Report: 4-State Food Deserts

Updated:

Part 1:

The USDA defines food deserts as "parts of the country, vapid of fresh fruit, vegetables and other healthful whole foods." According to its Food Desert Map, the town of Arma, KS qualifies. Residents there are looking for a solution.

Felisha Larson is not a fan of feeding her kids with food from a gas station. But ever since the Arma Market closed down, filling her kitchen with fresh fruit, vegetables, and other staples of a healthy diet, has become a chore.

"That usually requires loading all 3 children up. And I have 3 boys ages 5 to 10, one with special needs who is autistic. That makes a trip to Arma which is a good 15 minutes, getting them in, and fighting just to get in the store, get what we need," said Larson.

Felisha is one of the estimated 800,000 Kansans who live in food deserts, according to the Kansas Health Foundation. For rural areas, the USDA defines food deserts as places where a third of the population lives more than 10 miles from a grocery store.

Fortunately, there are Kansans working on the problem like the men and woman at Kansas State's Rural Grocery Initiative. The initiative's director, Dr. David Procter, understands Felisha's frustration, but also considers her one of the lucky ones, because she can drive.

"It is elderly. It is children. It is people with limited resources who are really the ones that are most affected by living in food deserts," said Dr. Procter.

Some problems created by food deserts, such a lack of proper nutrition and the health risks that come with it, are obvious. But Dr. Procter says food deserts can take an even larger toll, on a community.

"If folks are owning property in small towns, and a grocery store closes, there is an impact in turns of value of all that property in that town. And then all of a sudden, you're not talking about saving a few cents to buy a gallon of milk or a loaf of bread. You're talking about thousands of dollars that you have invested in your home," said Dr. Procter

The Arma Economic Development committee is working to bring a food distribution center to town.

"As a community, we owe it to our citizens to have those things available to them so they can live healthy and have a good quality of life," said committee member Lissa Rhodes.

The proposed food distribution center would provide groceries not only to Arma, but also to surrounding communities. And those surrounding communities are key.

When stores pool their money, they can buy more from suppliers, and that means saving more. Groceries can then be divided among several small town stores.

"A community the size of Arma, 1400 people in it, may find that difficult, but if we're able to have a distribution center, then other communities would be able to come and pick up groceries or instead of having a semi travel to these smaller grocery stores, you might have smaller box trucks," said Rhodes.

Arma Economic Development is gathering information on this cooperative. They are talking to neighboring communities, looking for partners, and waiting to learn if they'll be able to attract a new store owner.

"Everybody's looking forward to it. Waiting for that day," says Larson.

Arma is part of 74 low-income areas that have been selected by Governor Jeff Colyer as an "opportunity zone". An area where people can re-invest capital gains in their communities via "opportunity funds" and receive tax incentives. Arma's Economic Development Committee hopes those incentives, along with a community hungry for healthy food, is enough to attract a new store.

-----------

Part 2:

Passing through McCune, Kansas, their one market may not seem like a big a deal to some, but that's not the case for resident Ed Jumper.

"I have a special situation in my home. My wife is handicapped and I take care of her at home, and I have to have somebody stay with her to be gone," said Jumper.

Jumper can now buy the fresh fruit, vegetables, and groceries, without being away from his wife for an extended period. 

"It's a big help to me. It does save time, and time is what's the most critical to me, quite often," said Jumper.

Cherie Schenker and her husband run the McCune Farm to Market.

"It's been close to 25 years since there's been a grocery store here in town," said Schenker.

Their primary business is Schenker Farms, but after participating in a USDA feasibility study, they were convinced opening a market would help both their sales and their community.

"It's been amazing to be honest! Here I am getting emotional about it, but we just never expected the feedback that we have," said Schenker.

And business has been good at the market, which is important for the town. The director of Kansas State University's Rural Grocery Initiative says, one of the biggest contributing factors to food deserts is a lack of local support, for local grocers. 

"What will make those stores successful is if folks support those stores. And if they don't, it's going to be a tough go. It's going to be a challenge to stay open," said Dr. David Procter.

But the Mccune Farm to Market is thriving, and so are its customers.

"Some of our folks, we see them every day. And we may be the only people they see every day, outside of their mailman," said Schenker.

The Schenkers are ready for the next step, working with the Greenbush Alternative School to install a high tunnel, similar to a greenhouse, and allowing them to have a larger produce section, and help educate McCune students.

"That will give those kids at the alternative school that Greenbush runs here in McCune a chance to do something with their hands. To grow something. To have more ownership in what they're doing," said Schenker.

That larger selection is something Ed Jumper is looking forward to, but it's just a bonus. The McCune Farm to Market has already changed things for the better for ed and his wife.

"I don't always have somebody to be with her, so it's a real boon to me," said Jumper.

----------

Web Extra:

Brad Stroud is the executive director of Live Well Crawford County. Live Well Crawford County is a health and wellness coalition, dedicated to improving the health of Crawford County residents. They do that by encouraging exercise, healthy eating, and tobacco cessation and prevention. Brad shares his thoughts on food deserts in Crawford County, as well as what his organization is doing about the problem.

  • NewsMore>>

  • Hunger Breakfast Educates People on Food Insecurity in Joplin

    Hunger Breakfast Educates People on Food Insecurity in Joplin

    Thursday, July 19 2018 5:50 PM EDT2018-07-19 21:50:15 GMT

    More than thirty thousands households don't consistently have food in Jasper and Newton counties and charities say those are primarily the working poor. 

    More >>

    More than thirty thousands households don't consistently have food in Jasper and Newton counties and charities say those are primarily the working poor. 

    More >>
  • Joplin Man Sentenced For Cherokee County Thefts

    Joplin Man Sentenced For Cherokee County Thefts

    Thursday, July 19 2018 6:06 PM EDT2018-07-19 22:06:18 GMT
    Christopher WhitneyChristopher Whitney

    A Joplin man who plead guilty to two separate thefts in Cherokee County received a sentence on July 10, 2018. Christopher Whitney was sentenced to 16 months in prison for stealing personal property from rural home in Galena, KS and stealing a vehicle from a home near Rive ton, KS. After the two burglaries, Jasper County Sheriff's Office deputies stopped a vehicle driven by Whitney, where they found the stolen items and a quantity of methamphetamine. Prior to the sentenc...

    More >>

    A Joplin man who plead guilty to two separate thefts in Cherokee County received a sentence on July 10, 2018. Christopher Whitney was sentenced to 16 months in prison for stealing personal property from rural home in Galena, KS and stealing a vehicle from a home near Rive ton, KS. After the two burglaries, Jasper County Sheriff's Office deputies stopped a vehicle driven by Whitney, where they found the stolen items and a quantity of methamphetamine. Prior to the sentenc...

    More >>
  • 6-year-old in ICU, Knocked Unconscious by Softball

    6-year-old in ICU, Knocked Unconscious by Softball

    Thursday, July 19 2018 6:58 PM EDT2018-07-19 22:58:09 GMT

    She was taken to surgery where part of her skull was removed to get a blood clot and allow for swelling.

    More >>

    She was taken to surgery where part of her skull was removed to get a blood clot and allow for swelling.

    More >>
Powered by Frankly

KOAM - Licensed to Pittsburg, Kansas
Send tips, ideas and press releases to: tips@koamtv.com
Send newsroom questions or comments to: comments@koamtv.com
Phone: (417) 624-0233 or (620) 231-0400
Web comments or questions: webmaster@koamtv.com
Newsroom Fax: (417) 624-3158

Powered by Frankly, Inc. All content © Copyright 2000 - 2018 KOAM. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.