MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. — Where you call home might say something about the food you eat.
Certain Charlotte zip codes are considered food deserts, meaning people there have limited access to quality groceries.
To tackle that problem, the local health department and hospitals are teaming up with the non-profit, Loaves and Fishes, and rolling out a new solution.
Wednesday, ONE Charlotte Health Alliance partners Atrium Health, Novant Health, and Mecklenburg County Public Health Department, in partnership with Loaves & Fishes, unveiled two first-of-its-kind mobile food pharmacies.
They will help deliver fresh groceries to food-insecure neighborhoods.
"Families who are referred to us will be able to climb on board and shop like they would a regular grocery store for a week's worth of nutritionally balanced food," said Tina Postel, Executive Director of Loaves & Fishes.
Health officials identified several zip codes -- 28205, 28206, 28208, 28212, 28216 and 28217 -- as food deserts, meaning people are a few miles away from a grocery store.
"Some of these stores don't have fresh fruit, but the ones that do are way uptown somewhere, its kind of hard for people to go up the street, It'd be good to have one in this area," one man told WCNC Charlotte.
He lives in an area considered a food desert.
But it's more than just access to fresh foods. People living in low income neighborhoods also have more health problems, which means they tend to die younger.
"I’ve seen the devastating effects of poor nutrition manifested as stroke, heart attacks, just to name a few" Dr. Jerome Williams Jr., Senior Vice President of Consumer Engagement for Novant Health, said.
Health officials said while these mobile food pharmacies are a good start, there is still more to do.
"I have hope, I know we have the resources," said Dr. Jerome Williams Jr., Senior Vice President of Consumer Engagement for Novant Health.
Beginning in February 2020, the OCHA and Loaves & Fishes mobile food pharmacies will make routine visits to the following locations:
- River Church, located at 512 W 32nd Street, Charlotte, NC 28206
- Clinton Chapel AME Zion Church, located at 1801 Rozzelles Ferry Road, Charlotte, NC 28208
- Northeast Seventh-Day Adventist Church, located at 827 Tom Hunter Road, Charlotte, NC 28213
Additional locations will be added throughout the calendar year where it is determined the mobile food pharmacies are most needed.