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Sopchoppy residents fearful of possible food desert after closing of local grocery store

Sopchoppy only grocery store closed
Posted at 7:42 PM, Mar 21, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-21 19:56:10-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — With a current population of less than 500 people there aren’t many resources in Sopchoppy. Though one problem no one saw coming has many people up in arms—food.

“There’s no food. This is a food desert for sure in Panacea, Sopchoppy, and surrounding areas. There is nowhere to get your groceries except for 20 miles away,” said Wesley Stevenson, resident.

The Sopchoppy Grocery Store opened its doors back in the 1940’s. For many years it was Sopchoppy’s only grocery store within a 15 to 20-mile radius.

Now, the current owners of the establishment are headed for retirement with no one to run the store.

Many people worry with no new owners taking over the business and no other grocery store for miles that Sopchoppy will become a food desert.

Mayor Lara Edwards feels though the Sopchoppy Grocery Store has closed it is not the area’s only source of fresh foods.

“We’re losing a resource and a convenience but we’re within 15 miles of Crawfordville and with that all the resources we have,” said Lara Edwards, Mayor of Sopchoppy.

Resources such as grocery store food delivery, community dinners, and a Dollar General. People argue that this is not a reliable source of food.

“I’ve got to go all the way into town to Crawfordville to get a head of lettuce. There’s only so much you can buy at one time to last you before it starts to rot,” said Stevenson.

Right now, the USDA determines a food desert as defined by 3 factors: low income, the inability or lack of access to transportation, and lack of access to fresh food.

When speaking with Mayor Edwards she says a great solution would be asking the local Dollar General to start providing fresh fruits and vegetables.

“I’m actually surprised that the dollar general has not reached out to us because I see that a lot of their stores are going through a transformation where they are adding more local produce and vegetables,” said Edwards.

In the meantime, Stevenson believes this problem can be fixed by the community for the community.

“My idea is to have a co-op where farmer’s market is more of the thing and ramp of the kitchen and do more food service,” said Stevenson.

Stevenson plans to host a community meeting soon and collaborate with other residents on possibly leasing the old Sopchoppy Grocery Store building.