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"It's rough on us" | Those in North Memphis food desert deal with full week of Family Dollar closure, uncertainty

The store at N. Hollywood Street and Chelsea Avenue is more than three miles from the nearest full-service grocery store.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — One week after the indefinite closure of all Family Dollar stores in Memphis and the Mid-South, the struggles continue for those in neighborhoods where such stores serve as a primary source for food and supplies.

Many areas in Memphis with Family Dollar stores don't have a full service grocery store anywhere in sight, which is also known as a food desert.

That includes the Family Dollar store on N. Hollywood Street and Chelsea Avenue, where in order to get any fresh fruits and vegetables, you have to take a bus or car more than a three miles away.

For Rydell Wright, who doesn't own a car and is on a fixed income, life is even more difficult these days. His best walkable option in his North Memphis neighborhood is closed indefinitely.

"It's rough on us because really need that Family Dollar and we depend on it," Wright said.

For now, Wright's only walkable option is a convenience store, which offers less and costs more.

"If you spend $5, it will be $10 if you go to the gas station," Wright added.

Wright's neighborhood is one of Memphis' worst food deserts, without a full-service grocery store for 25 years.

It takes more than three miles, going under I-40 and into Frayser, until you get to the nearest Kroger.

"It's really hard. You've got to have some good reliable friends and that's how I've been doing it," Wright said.

"Its a big problem because of the gas prices went up. It's going to be a big, big problem," Lerna Holden added.

Holden said until the Family Dollar reopens, neighbors plan on helping neighbors, especially the most vulnerable ones.

"One thing about us over here in our hood from Hollywood to Hyde Park, you know we are going to make sure our elderly people are very straight - if we have to write down their list and go to the grocery store," Holden added.

"Many of these residents have no other option. You are in a food desert and in a desert you will seek out the oasis," Shelby County Commissioner Reginald Milton said Monday.

Milton also admitted earlier this week that he and other elected officials must do more to incentivize developers to add more grocery stores in more underserved areas.

"We know the people here need more resources. I am an elected official - am responsible for that. Every elected official is doing that. You need to hold us accountable for our shortcomings," Milton added.

Those at Family Dollar haven't announced when Mid-South stores will reopen and those at local and state level continue their efforts to get emergency food assistance for those forced to toss out recent purchases as a precaution.

Affected Family Dollars workers temporarily out of a job can also apply for unemployment assistance. To find out how in the Mid-South, CLICK HERE.

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