Monday, October 24, 2016

Shelves bare at grocery store in impoverished rural Appalachian town; owners blame coal downturn

There are not many options at the Foodland in Grantsville, W.Va.
 (Gazette-Mail photo by Christian Tyler Randolph)
Poverty, lost coal jobs and competition from big chain stores are being blamed for bare shelves at the only grocery store in a rural Appalachian West Virginia town. Officials for the Foodland in Grantsville, W.Va.—the next closest store is 25 miles away—say economic struggles in the town of 650 has adversely affected sales, Max Garland reports for the Charlette Gazette Mail. A Foodland spokesperson said that "With the workforce in the state still adjusting to the loss in coal jobs and natural gas prices taking a hit, locals don’t have enough disposable income to buy as much food and keep the store afloat."

In 2013 in Grantsville (Best Places map) 27.6 percent of the population was below the poverty line and the current per capital income is $16,616, well below the state average of $23,237, Garland writes. In Calhoun County, 16.7 percent of people do not have reliable access to healthy foods, above the state average of 15.3 percent, according to a 2014 study by the hunger-relief organization Feeding America.

Foodland officials also blame competition from big chain stores Walmart and Kroger, Garland writes. Officials said Foodland is expected to get a food delivery Friday, it's first in weeks, and that the delivery will lead to operations hopefully getting back to normal.

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