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County working to address Northside food discrepancy as new grocery store opens – WECT

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – With new housing going up in southeastern North Carolina, it’s natural for new grocery stores, restaurants, and shopping centers to follow.
“When you look at what’s happening with the new Harris Teeter, you’ve got River Lights, that community there, and others that have been built on that side of the county, new apartments that have been built in that area. There are a whole lot of residences are popping up which I think justifies for them,” New Hanover County Commissioner Jonathan Barfield said.
More housing units have risen in downtown Wilmington, specifically along the river and 3rd Street.
County commissioner Jonathan Barfield says continued growth will eventually draw a company’s attention.
“I think there are enough rooftops coming downtown where eventually, one of your major grocery stores will probably look at Downtown Wilmington somewhere and say, now we have enough rooftops here to justify putting a location here and provide another alternative for residents,” Barfield said.
To fill that need sooner, the City of Wilmington recently donated a piece of property and New Hanover County is helping foot the bill for construction so the Northside Food Co-Op could build a grocery store.
“We’re trying to make a people decision from a county government standpoint to benefit the people that we serve in our community,” Barfield said.
Leaders with the Co-Op know it’s not an immediate fix because the store likely won’t open until 2024, but their vision is to serve an underserved community and help make it healthier.
“Our real focus is on giving this service, giving this needed grocery store to the people that have been without for so long,” Genna Wirth with the Northside Food Co-Op said. “We don’t just want to have access to fresh produce, we need it to be affordable for the people in our community to be able to purchase and take part in and be and feel that sense of pride that they have a community-owned grocery store, and they are a part of that process.”
Barfield grew up in Wilmington and said he remembers having to get in the car and drive farther to a traditional grocery store.
“I remember you know, traveling to other places to get groceries and if you don’t have a car, that can definitely be a challenge,” Barfield said. “That’s one area that has been a food desert for quite a while. At one point in time, there was a grocery store at the foot of Fourth Street, many years ago when I was a kid, but that’s long since been gone. So, I’m glad that we’re doing our part from a county standpoint to partner with the Northside Food Co-Op.”
For more information about the grocery store, click here.
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