BALTIMORE (WJZ) — More than a third of Baltimore’s neighborhoods don’t have grocery stores. It’s a problem that’s contributed to the city’s high obesity rate.

Gigi Barnett takes a look at how one southwest Baltimore store is trying to change that.

Pam Burley’s grocery cart is loaded with fruits and vegetables.

She shops at the Food Depot in southwest Baltimore. The store just finished a complete overhaul to offer more healthy options to neighbors.

“You’ve got to eat healthy. Your health is more important than the price,” Burley said.

But the store still lowered prices on organic foods, brought in more signs to showcase healthy choices and hired a full-time dietician to show shoppers how to eat well on a budget.

“I took a pack of chicken breast and I made it into five different things for a total of 37 different servings for under $5,” said Sheryl Hoehner, registered dietician.

About 36 percent of Baltimore’s neighborhoods are in what’s called a “food desert.” That means the nearest grocery store is more than a quarter mile away and less than 60 percent of the people in those communities have a car to get to one.

“That’s very troubling to me, and it’s something I care deeply about,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

Those kind of changes drew the attention of city Mayor Rawlings-Blake, who wants more stores like Food Depot in Baltimore to bring in more fruits and vegetables.

“So many of the diseases that impact our community in Baltimore are impacted by obesity. If we can get that under control we would be able to create a healthier city,” the mayor said.

In addition to Food Depot being the first Baltimore grocery store with a dietician on staff, the store is also teaming up with a local gym to offer exercise classes.

The city says it especially needs more grocery stores because about 25 percent of children live in food deserts.


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