Transportation becoming a concern for food desert residents - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

Transportation becoming a concern for food desert residents

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LONGVIEW/GREGG COUNTY (KYTX) - The U.S. Department of Agriculture determines which areas are classified as food deserts. In a city, that's a low income, residential area more than a mile from a grocery store with affordable, healthy foods. In a rural area, its' an area more than ten miles away. For those who live in Longview's food deserts without cars, the city's long bus routes are making their ability to get those foods a bit of a hassle.

Roderick Darden lives in a food desert in an area of south Longview.

He says he doesn't have a car and the nearest grocery store is not within walking distance from his home.

"Right now it's about 4 miles."

For the past few years, he's been taking the bus to get where he needs to go. He says his most frustrating trips are the ones to the grocery store.

"You're having to carry it from the store on the bus, it's on the bus and then you have to carry it to the house."

And Roderick says foods melting or spoiling on the hour long bus routes concern him too.

 "We as a city recognize that transportation and access not only to food markets but medical appointments or going to see family that's an issue."

An issue Assistant City Manager Chuck Ewing says the city is working to improve, by possibly making routes shorter or offering service to more locations.

"It is not the most convenient method, but if you have no transportation it provides some accessibility to these services."

"If the routes were a lot thicker, meaning going into the neighborhoods, more so than just the main roads, that would help."

"We try to manage those routes, and improve those routes constantly to provide the best access to our residents as possible."

But until that happens, Roderick and many others will have to continue to take those long bus rides with their groceries.

The U.S.D.A says fast food restaurants and convenient stores that are on every corner are not considered food providers because they do not carry fresh food or produce.

The City of Longview says next year it will start a 'Pedestrian Access Study.' That will help the city develop plans to make bus routes more convenient for people who don't have their own transportation.

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