Health officials work to solve Albany's food desert problem

Health officials work to solve Albany's food desert problem
Farmer Fredo works to teach people how to make community gardens. (Source: WALB)
Farmer Fredo works to teach people how to make community gardens. (Source: WALB)

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Health officials said there is a growing problem in Albany.

Many people in the city don't have access to healthy food, which creates not only health problems in the community but economic problems as well.

WALB spoke with Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital officials, who said the City of Albany, specifically the downtown area, is a food desert. Which means people don't have easy access to fresh foods that they normally would.

But staff at Phoebe is working to help solve the problem.

"So you take somebody who doesn't have a car, they either have to get a ride or walk, a mile and half round trip to get to a grocery store," said Lori Jenkins, the director of planning at Phoebe.

The food desert issue in Albany means grocery stores are out of reach for many residents, especially for those in need. But several organizations are working together to try to solve the issue.

"Our mission is to increase access to fresh, local, affordable food," said Fredando Jackson, known as Farmer Fredo, the executive director for Flint River Fresh.

Jackson is working with Phoebe and several other nonprofits in Albany to look for ways to make healthy food more readily available for more people.

"Phoebe was the lead applicant for a CDC grant that looks to reduce disparities among certain populations," said Jenkins.

The grant Phoebe is working to receive would give the hospital $120,000 every year, for up to five years. Phoebe officials said this would allow the hospital to work on their access to healthy food initiative.

"Get healthy produce to those families, teach them community gardening, that sort of thing," Jenkins said.

Farmer Fredo said there are easy first steps they can take to minimize food disparity here.

"We remove the barrier of people saying I don't have a car or our bus system, I can't get their on a bus, I don't feel comfortable with that," said Jackson.

Jenkins said they are also working with the Southwest Georgia diabetes Coalition on this community initiative, to help provide healthy food options for people with diabetes.

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