When Food Deserts Lose Their Only Source of Balanced Nutrition

Corporate negligence caused the temporary closure of stores depended upon by the impoverished

Paul Ryburn, M.Sc.

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Family Dollar storefront in Downtown Memphis with “Store Closing” sign, spring 2021
The Family Dollar location in Downtown Memphis, TN, shortly before it closed permanently in 2021. It had to be temporarily closed in 2014 due to a rodent infestation. Photo by author.

What if you had no way to get the food you needed to live, at prices which you could afford?

Most of you reading this have access to a big-box or at least a medium-sized grocery store. You can shop for meat cut by the in-store butcher. You have access to fresh produce grown on area farms. Many large groceries in affluent parts of town have amenities such as sushi bars, olive bars, and in-store Starbucks locations.

Take a moment to imagine if you had none of that.

Poverty-stricken urban areas often don’t. Residents in those parts of town may find that the nearest large grocery store is 5 or more miles away. Grocery chains’ studies indicate that it’s not profitable to open stores in those areas, known as food deserts.

Residents of food deserts rely on a different kind of outlet to get their balanced nutrition: dollar stores. In most cases, they can’t get fresh food there, but at least they can get frozen and canned meat, canned fruits and vegetables, loaves of bread, and boxes of cereal, providing most of the nutrients they need.

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Paul Ryburn, M.Sc.

I write about writing, ideas, creativity, homelessness, intuition, spirituality, life lessons. Ex-college teacher Twitter: @paulryburn