Food justice efforts fight hunger, create food desert oasis | Food and Cooking

In Columbia, low food access areas include much of the North Main and Monticello Road corridors; some areas surrounding Two Notch Road and Harden Street; parts of the St. Andrews area near Broad River Road; some communities along the Farrow Road corridor; and the Shop and Bluff road corridors stretching into Lower Richland.

Generally, these communities have large minority populations, aligning closely with communities that historically experienced redlining, or racial discrimination in home lending, public services and economic opportunities, Page noted.

“There’s certain areas of the city you can throw a rock and land at multiple grocery stores, and other areas of the city you’ve got to throw a rock and throw it again and another time just to find one,” Page said.

Along some parts of North Main Street, you’d have to toss that rock as far as 6 miles. Along this corridor, there is no grocery store between the Vista and near Interstate 20 — a roughly 6-mile stretch. But there is a trio of small fresh-food options picking up some of the slack.

And in between those two, there is Rare Variety Cafe.

“We’re calling this a food hub slash vegan cafe slash grocery store slash food boutique spot,” said Bonita Clemons, who helped start the food hub along with Keith Alexander, who owns Rare Variety. “It’s a small ecosystem where we grow, sell, advocate, educate … all in the name of the local food movement and food justice.”

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