Earlier this week, Lowes Foods, a local grocery store chain, announced the closing of two Hickory-area locations: the grocery on 29th Avenue NE in Hickory and the one at 3035 Centennial Blvd. in Claremont.
This leaves many shoppers wondering: Where will I go now?
While loyal shoppers at the soon-to-be-closed Hickory Lowes Foods location are disappointed their favorite store will close in August, there are several grocery store options to choose from, all within a few miles of the 29th Avenue NE store.
Those include a Walmart Neighborhood Market, Publix, a different Lowes Foods store and Food Lion.
For shoppers in Claremont, the list of nearby locations is shorter and the drive longer.
Using Google Maps with Claremont City Hall as the “home” location, the closest grocery store to town hall after Lowes Foods closes, will be the Food Lion at 104 Thornburg Drive SE in Conover. It is roughly 3.4 miles from Claremont City Hall at 3288 E. Main St.
If those shoppers wish to continue shopping at Lowes Foods, they’ll have to travel at least 13.6 miles to the 260 14th Avenue NE Lowes Foods in Hickory.
Food Insecurity Risk
According to a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), it doesn’t appear that Claremont is at risk for becoming a food desert.
The USDA defines a food desert as a low-income census tract where a significant number or share of residents is more than 1 mile in urban areas or 10 miles in rural areas from the nearest supermarket.
According to Emily Killian, community engagement specialist for Catawba County Public Health, access to fresh fruits and vegetables and other healthy, whole foods is what separates a supermarket from a convenience store.
As for current food desert data, that is calculated by the USDA, which updates their Food Access Research Atlas every five years and is in the process of doing so, Killian added.
However, a spokesperson for the USDA said the 2015 data does not show Claremont as a food desert due to the city not being a low income or low access area.
“Unless these two factors (income and vehicle access) have also changed since then, I do not anticipate this area will be a low income/low access area when we use a revised store list,” the spokesperson said via email to Killian on Thursday.