On April 1, 2022, a community meeting was held at the Talbot County Chamber of Commerce and Development Authority to discuss a grocery store initiative to address food disparities inclusive of lack of access and availability to healthy and nutritious foods and the grocery store’s impact on local economic development. This initiative is spearheaded by community and food advocate leader, Jane Lockhart, pictured right, owner of Frank and Olive’s Marketplace, Inc. In attendance at the community meeting were federal and local governmental leaders, pastors, and community members.
Talbot County, population 6,321, currently has no grocery store with a food insecurity rate of 17.7%, higher than that of the food insecurity rate in Georgia (14.4%) and the United States (12.6%), per the Georgia Rural Health Innovation Data Hub sourced by the United States Census Bureau and Feeding America. Residents have to drive to neighboring counties such as Muscogee (Columbus) and Meriwether (Manchester), approximately 20-40 minutes away, to have access to a grocery store. A grocery store has not been present in Talbot County for close to 20 years.
Jane Lockhart, owner of Frank and Olive’s Marketplace, Inc., (also the name of the proposed grocery store) saw a need for community change and the need for a local grocery store. Frank and Olive’s Marketplace is named after Lockhart’s grandfathers who lived in Talbot County. This grocery store will be located in Talbotton, Georgia. Jane and other community residents from the surrounding areas such as Junction City and Woodland are currently looking for space to house the full-service grocery store (e.g., retails pre-packaged meals, deli, butchery) inclusive of a bakery.
Future community meetings will discuss the grocery store’s financial potential, contributions to economic development, and food sourcing from local producers (e.g., farmers, agriculturists etc.).