Vinton County has a population of over 13,000, but not a single grocery store. Many residents are forced to drive 40 minutes or more to Athens or Jackson to buy the food they need, while many others are left stranded without their own transportation and must rely on their neighbors and community members for help. Like many areas throughout the United States, Vinton County is considered a food desert.
Vinton County’s only grocery store closed down in 2014, and after seemingly endless negotiations they are finally set to get a new one in late 2017. After more than two years of living without convenient access to healthy food, community members and organizations have learned to cope with their situation. Though the new store will certainly make it easier for people living in the center of town, it may take more than that to address the problem of food accessibility in the more rural areas.