WENDELL, N.C. — North Carolina is a top agriculture-producing state in the U.S., according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. But many people who live in food deserts still struggle to get their hands on nutritious food.
What You Need To Know
- Many people who live in food deserts still struggle to get access to fresh, nutritious food
- Demetrius Hunter of Grocers on Wheels works with Black farmers to serve rural and urban areas
- Hunter, a fourth-generation farmer, runs a grocery store in southeast Raleigh to give Black Americans a healthier option
Demetrius Hunter runs Grocers on Wheels, a mobile market that gives people access to fresh produce.
His vegetables almost always come from Black farmers or farmers of color. During the holiday season, Hunter delivered collard greens, squash, sweet potatoes and other vegetables to Pleasant Grove Baptist Church, a Black church in a rural area.
Hunter, who operates throughout Wake County, works to tackle food insecurity in his community.
“In this area, it’s a food insecure area,” Hunter said. “And to make sure that they have food because hardly any grocery stores are located in eastern part of Wake County, we make sure that we bring it here and then they [church staff] turn around and deliver it to the seniors. But also people come here to make sure they get food.”
Hunter says he wants to help people in need, including those who have lost their jobs amid the pandemic and can’t afford to go grocery shopping. His father, who passed away four years ago, is his inspiration.
“Giving back is my dad’s motto,” Hunter said. “Every time he went out, if there was someone that didn’t have or [were] less resourceful, he made sure they had the right food to eat or carry them over for the week. And if they needed a larger amount, he would have a whole sheet of people that he’d say pay me back whenever you can.”
Hunter, a fourth-generation farmer, also honors his dad’s legacy in another way. He has a grocery store in southeast Raleigh called the Black Farmer’s Hub, a hidden gem in this part of the city where fast food is so readily available. He works with Black farmers who want to sell their produce and gets it out to community members who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford fresh, nutritious food.
“Having this store right in the middle of that and surrounded by fast food and convenience stores that don’t serve a healthy purpose, could raise peoples’ mindsets and understanding [of] how to eat healthier, reducing your comorbidities, high blood pressure, diabetes,” he said.
While increasing food access is important to him, so is building relationships with other Black farmers.
“It’s important to leep those relationships my dad had in the past, and add new ones,” Hunter said. “It just makes us stronger and more impactful when we’re going out in the community and serving those who need it most.”
Hunter and his wife have a farm in Warren County. They plan to open a grocery store there, similar to the Black Farmer’s Hub.