Task force aims to bring healthy options to SOWEGA - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Task force aims to bring healthy options to SOWEGA

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CUTHBERT, GA (WALB) - More than a fifth of children in Georgia are obese. It's the second highest childhood obesity rate in the nation, according to a Food Trust study.

A new task force is trying to curb the problem by making sure kids in low income areas have better access to healthy food.

Believe it or not, some people call Randolph County a desert - a food desert. It's one of many places in south Georgia that offers few healthy eating options.

Manoj Sharmin owns a store in the heart of downtown. He agrees with a study that says places like Cuthbert need more supermarkets.

"It would create more competition and jobs and it's always welcome here, said Sharmin."

Right now, Piggly Wiggly is his only option. 

"We'll have more customers," Sharmin said. "When you have low prices, more customers will come to town."

A group called The Food Trust studied Georgia and says too many inner city and rural communities don't have access to supermarkets with fresh food. The areas of greatest concern in Southwest Georgia stretch from Mitchell to Randolph County. They also include parts of  Decatur, Dougherty, and Turner County.

Pick N' Save shopper Shakela Darling would like to have more convenient, healthy options in town.

"It's so far. We have to go to Albany," said Darling. "It would be nice if they put another one so we didn't have to use gas and go so far."

Family Connection Partnership executive Director, Gaye Smith, who is teaming up with the Georgia Food Industry Association says they're just beginning to identify needs. She believes the work will make a difference.

"This will impact child health because we know we have a childhood obesity problem in Georgia, said Smith.

Sharmin agrees a new supermarket could improve the physical and economic health of Randolph County.

The Georgia Supermarket Access Task Force met for the first time Monday and will meet again this Fall to find ways to improve health and economic development across the state.

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