Pew: As Rural Groceries Fade Away, Lawmakers Wonder Whether to Act

EXCERPT: “Nancy McCloud did not have any food industry bona fides. She had never worked in a grocery store; not even a restaurant. And yet three years ago, when her local grocery in central New Mexico closed, she wanted to offer the community (population: 863) the fresh foods they otherwise would have to travel 47 miles to get. Mountainair, New Mexico, is a popular tourist stop because of its proximity to 17th century ruins that harken to the earliest contact between Pueblo Indians and Spanish colonials. It’s known as the ‘gateway to ancient cities.’ But without a grocery store, McCloud feared Mountainair might become another relic of the past. ‘When you have a small rural town and the grocery store dies, the town dries up and it just blows away,’ said McCloud, who revived B Street Market in 2017 and became its owner. ‘There are six towns east of here — they just lost the grocery store, then they lost the gas station, and then they lost the bank and now they’re nothing.’ Some states are trying to tackle their rural grocery gaps. Supporters of such efforts point to tax incentives and subsidies at various levels of government that have enabled superstores to service larger areas and squeeze out local independent grocers. Now, dollar stores are opening in rural regions and offering items at lower prices, posing direct competition to local groceries. Critics see that development as a threat to public health, since dollar stores typically lack quality meat and fresh produce.” FULL STORY: