Cairo, IL considered food desert for lack of healthy food option - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Cairo, IL considered food desert for lack of healthy food options

(Source: Brittany Jacob/KFVS) (Source: Brittany Jacob/KFVS)
CAIRO, IL (KFVS) -

There may be hope for places in Illinois that are considered a food desert. A food desert is simply a location with a lack of grocery stores, farmers markets with the fresh, healthy food options.

A new law aims to track food deserts and its associated health issues, and bring help to the areas that need it most. 

Cairo’s Librarian, Monica Smith, is the Special Projects Coordinator for the city.  She is not happy about the lack of fresh produce in the area.

“It’s been very very bad for our community,” Smith said. “People are used to going to the grocery store everyday – and you don’t miss something until it’s not there, that’s the problem...we just all took it for granted – that we had a grocery store – the vegetables, and the meat and the produce. Everything was there everyday…and when you don’t have it any longer, it’s a real void.”

The city of Cairo is considered a food desert - there is no grocery store, no farmers market, and no other healthy food provider.

“We have two local restaurants that are very well patronized here – Shimwell's and the Nu Diner, you know, but that’s just about it,” Smith explained. 

Many residents shop at the local Dollar General, but, If they want fresh vegetables or meats, then they need to travel to the next city. 

“Unfortunately most of our residents have to go to Wickcliffe, KY, Mounds, IL or Charleston, MO or Cape Girardeau, Paducah, or several different places. And you know the transportation to those areas are so limited. They have to depend on other people to either take them or the Shawnee Mass transit to take them or a friend or they do without,” Smith said.

But there is hope. Plans are in place for a grocery store in Cairo—Harvest Market place. Smith is optimistic.

“You have to hope and you have to pray that it comes to fruition because we definitely are in need of one.”

The owner of the potential grocery store, Sterling Moody, said they just received the architectural store layout and the store is still slated to be open. 

It's still not clear when the store will open. Cairo has been without a grocery story since December 2015 when Wonder Market closed. 

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