On September 15, 2021 at Valdosta State University, Dr. Kimberly Carr, Community Resource Specialist, Georgia Rural Health Innovation Center, presented, “Addressing the Food Plight in Rural Georgia: Innovative Ways for Community Involvement” to the Georgia Senate Study Committee and other invited stakeholders. The Georgia Senate formed the Senate Study Committee on Improving Healthy Food Access and Ending Food Deserts to address these public health and economic issues facing many rural Georgians.
Dr. Carr’s presentation outlined the need to consider alternative perspectives to food such as changing the contextual language of “food deserts” and its subsequent measurement (a “food desert” is defined by the United States Department of Agriculture as “low-income census tracts with a substantial number or share of residents with low levels of access to retail outlets selling healthy and affordable foods”) and to explore community-based food resources and pathways by considering the establishment of nonprofit grocery stores vs. for-profit grocery stores in rural communities. Key takeaways from the presentation included re-thinking how “food deserts” are defined, building capacity among and between community members in the same and neighboring counties, and focusing on community resiliency, empowerment and sustainability. At the presentation, Dr. Carr was accompanied by Davis Perkins, Rural Health Representative, where he shared information about the Georgia Rural Health Innovation Center to the Senators and audience.
Senators in attendance were: Russ Goodman (District 8), Freddie Sims (District 12), and Harold Jones II (District 22). Dr. Carr’s presentation can be found on the Georgia State Senate website (SR 283- Senate Study Committee on Improving Access to Healthy Foods and Ending Food Deserts)