Blue Cross Blue Shield and Johnson C. Smith University team up to eliminate food desert

A new investment will allow an urban garden to grow fruits and vegetables for the surrounding community.

johnson c smith university

Photograph: Shutterstock

Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) is investing $325,000 in Johnson C. Smith University's Sustainability Village in Charlotte, N.C., to build three buildings that will grow fruits and vegetables for the surrounding community. The food will be sold to neighbors at reasonable prices, according to an article on

The project, established in what locals consider a food desert, will help provide access to fresh fruits and vegetables the area is currently lacking.

"The closest grocery store to many of those persons is between 5 and 10 miles [away]," Mike Restaino, director of community relations for BCBSNC, told the news station. "So going to a grocery store isn't a convenient thing, particularly if they have to rely on transportation."

The Sustainability Village was developed in 2013 to address food access in the area. This latest investment is intended to help positively impact health in the community and reduce the cost of healthcare in general.

University students will manage the greenhouses and also be responsible for community outreach to promote the importance of nutrition.

In addition to fruits and vegetables, there will be room for an aquaponics facility where fish will eventually be raised.

The greenhouses are on track to be completed in approximately nine months, and the first harvest is expected in spring 2019.

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