Navigating Obstacles and Mapping Success

Projected to be one of the fastest growing urban areas between now and 2030, Mecklenburg County is working to implement a vision for its future. The Mecklenburg Livable Communities Plan reports the strategies and actions underway in order to achieve their goals.

One of these goals is incorporating healthy living in the greater Charlotte area. A specific action for this goal is to “Reevaluate residents’ access to healthy food through an updated community food assessment” [1].

The 2014 ‘CONNECT Our Future’ Food Systems Report identifies some of the obstacles facing residents of the greater metropolitan Charlotte concerning access to healthy and nutritional foods. Examples include average household income, education level, access to transportation, and living with a chronic disease(s) [2].   

“However, interest in local food products by area residents is on the rise. Evidence of this interest can be seen in the growth of direct sales in the project region. As a whole, the 14 counties [included in the report] experienced a 103 percent increase in direct sales from 2002 to 2007, going from $1.8 million to nearly $3.7 million. Direct sales grew again between 2007 and 2012 reaching $4.7 million” [2].

The NC Local Food Infrastructure Inventory provides a map of businesses that serve as intermediary steps in local food supply chains. Expanding local food products and healthy living—especially to areas lacking access—will require collaboration among local business, government, and nonprofit entities. Overlaying maps is an excellent tool for visualizing the locations of such entities, opportunities for collaboration, and areas of need (see the USDA’s food access mapping tool for Mecklenburg County).

 Looking to eat local in your Charlotte community? Check out this map of Charlotte-area farmer’s markets and this map of Charlotte-area pick-your-own farms.