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Research on food, housing and health care in west Charlotte
Collaborative study examines sustainability
Published Thursday, August 1, 2019 11:56 am
by Ashley Mahoney | The Charlotte Post

Johnson C. Smith University student Kelvin Simon is a participant in the National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates.

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College researchers examined sustainability along the Beatties Ford Road corridor.

Participants with the National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates shared their findings in a community presentation at Johnson C. Smith University last week. The presentation marked the culmination of an eight-week collaborative program between JCSU, Davidson College and UNC Charlotte, where students from across the country studied topics pertaining to the theme of “Examining the Intersection of Food, Housing and Healthcare.”

“They are 11 of 216 students who applied to this program,” JCSU Professor Philip Otienoburu said. “We were extremely selective, and I believe we made the right choice.”  

Said JCSU President Clay Armbrister: “Research is the idea of creating knowledge. You’re creating and examining knowledge—we’re in the knowledge industry. When you think about the topic, I looked at it, and said, ‘boy, they are going back to the roots of history.’ When I thought about food, housing and healthcare, I thought about sustenance, shelter and wellbeing. Even though we are now in 2019, those real issues, of which we need to find much more knowledge about, because as this planet grows, and we continue to consume the incredible resources that we have been provided, we have to think about ways of sustaining the planet, sustaining the population growth, making sure to provide adequate shelter for those of us who are going to be here. I think this is just the foundation of some solutions that you are going to provide.”

Participants include Kelvin Simon and Taliah Gilliam of JCSU; Elizabeth Miller and Carolyn Xenelis from Davidson, Kim Savage of UNCC, Hector Osorio from UCLA; Awab Shawkat from State University of New York at Geneseo; Tahlia Hanna-Martinez from Cornell University; Desteny Ventura of Lehman College and Grace Duah of Muhlenberg College.

Students worked with government entities and representatives, such Elizabeth Lamy Santos with Charmeck 311, as well as community leaders like Historic Washington Heights Neighborhood Association President Mattie Marshall. Researchers explored topics ranging from “Domestic violence among undocumented immigrants” to “Demystifying black men’s mental health in West Charlotte” to “How can we make mobile markets more effective? Assessing The Bulb in Charlotte’s Historic West End.”

“Our project’s main focal point is attempting to alleviate food scarcity along Beatties Ford Road, and in the outspread community,” Simon said. “We partnered with The Bulb, which is run by Alisha Pruett, to see how the mobile farmers market is run, and how it is useful in the area. Our main objective was to interview customers and staff volunteers to evaluate the effectiveness of the service to the community.”  

Through observation, surveys and interviews, Simon and Martinez determined four main results.

“There is only one supermarket here on Beatties Ford Road that sells fresh quality food, but there is a variety in quality, so only one out of eight residents would go to the local Food Lion for fresh produce, and three out of eight residents would go to the Walmart, which is 3 miles away, and not everyone has transportation.

“We found that the two main barriers for purchasing fresh produce are cost and transportation. Not everyone has a car. The third result: six out of eight residents don’t find it difficult to obtain fresh produce, which is kind of a shock, because everyone says they are food insecure, but they don’t find it difficult to get fresh produce. We’ll do some more research on that…our fourth result, which I love the most, is that everyone loves potatoes. We did a survey, and we asked residents, ‘what is their favorite vegetable or fruit to purchase?’ and everyone said potatoes.”


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