Poverty And Produce: The Vinton County Balance

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 Editor’s Note: This is the third in a series of stories from WOUB on Vinton County’s journey as a food desert, and the fight for fresh food. The series is being done in partnership with the Vinton County Courier. 

As Campbell’s Market settles in to McArthur, residents who were hired on to work the aisles are finally able to clock in to their new jobs.

With a 19 percent poverty rate, according to state numbers, Vinton County has other issues compounded with the lack of fresh food, and also helped by the introduction of a new store. This includes the free breakfasts and lunches that are subsidized for 100 percent of the county’s children during the school year.

Open interviews at the store in August brought in more than 100 people looking for jobs ranging from store manager to part-time deli clerk and stocker.

Vinton County Commissioner Jim Satory said he knows some of the workers that have been hired on at the store. He said the new store manager fell on hard times, and the Campbell’s job opening gave him the opportunity he needed to stay in the county.

“(He) was caught in a downsizing situation at his employer after he’d been working there for 30 some years,” Satory said of the employee. “Campbell’s has come in, he has interviewed and he’s going to be our new store manager.”

The approximately 30 jobs the store brings to the county aren’t all “oh-wow” jobs, as Satory put it, but they are jobs coming to an area where the unemployment rate sits at 8.9 percent, according to February 2017 statistics from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The national average sits at less than half that, and Ohio’s rate was at 5 percent in BLS studies.

“There’s always good jobs, there’s great jobs, there’s oh-wow jobs, but we just need good steady employment because that’s what’s going to grow the community,” Satory said.

Vinton County Senior Center Executive Director Rhoda Toon-Price said not only will a new store bring more variety, but a price difference.

She and other volunteers travel with residents to outside counties to go to larger stores, but also because the small amount of produce that can be had in the county isn’t at a price people in the county want to – or have the ability to – pay.

“I mean they can go to one of the convenience stores and buy a banana for a dollar, dollar and a half, but it’s expensive,” Toon-Price said.

Those low-income residents that can’t get a ride to another county struggle to figure out how to get food for their family – where to get it, and how to pay for it.

“For underserved and underincome folks in the county who can’t just pop their debit card in the gas pump and fill it up and run, this thing’s going to be a real blessing,” Satory said.

When residents of the county have more money, Satory said, the county will bring in more money for services to benefit the residents.

“If we get even $10 more than we had before, we’ve done well, and I know we’re going to get a whole lot more than that,” Satory said.


Read the other stories in this series:

Vinton County Edges Closer To Grocery Store Opening

Grocery Store Comes With Community


Related Stories:

Groceries Coming To Vinton County

#457SEO: The Vinton County Food Fight