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Bridging The Great Health Divide: How a family of seven in rural area grocery shops

Published: Jun. 24, 2021 at 9:12 PM CDT
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CHEROKEE, Ala. (WAFF) - Grocery shopping is a relatively easy routine for many people. However, community members in one Shoals town remind us that access isn’t the same in rural areas.

How long does it take you to grocery shop?

Almost a third of Nicholette Carter’s day is spent grocery shopping.

“It’s all about the timing and the loop that I can make so I don’t have to spend too much time per store and I don’t have to worry about driving around too awful much,” said Carter.

WAFF’s DeAndria Turner got a chance to ride along with her and her family for a four-hour grocery store run.

You may be wondering what factors into this long of a grocery store run.

Carter says it’s the accessibility because she lives in Cherokee where there is only one grocery store, Piggly Wiggly. While she does shop at Piggly Wiggly, she drives 30 miles to Muscle Shoals for better access to more stores.

“More selection, much higher selection. The prices are a lot less expensive. I can do the grocery pick-up which is very helpful, especially when you have five kids you don’t have a lot of time and I can also go to different stores. If one store doesn’t have it, I can go to a store nearby which probably carries it,” said Carter.

She’s not the only resident I’ve spoken with who says the same thing.

Another mom that lives in Cherokee tells me most of the shopping for her large family is done at bigger chain stores since their local store doesn’t have everything they need.

And when it comes to prices at the nearby stores: “The prices are a little bit higher. Kind of like a convenience store,” said Carter.

So DeAndria checked it out for herself.

A gallon of milk at Aldi in Muscle Shoals is $1.48.

A gallon of milk at Piggly Wiggly in Cherokee is $3.45.

The owner of Piggly Wiggly in Cherokee said they get two shipments a week from the Piggly Wiggly Distribution Center in Birmingham. She explained how the distribution center price zones for their area and they choose their prices based on what the highest and lowest cost is and choose the medium price.

But for many families like Carter’s, she said, it’s about availability, quality and price.

“The amount of money that I would pay to go into town here and get those same things, it would almost be twice as much. So either way, I am going to be paying a lot,” said Carter.

Piggly Wiggly’s store owner also said that it’s important to support the local grocery store to keep it open and prevent Cherokee from becoming a food desert.

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