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Emergency declaration extended to help with NE OKC ‘food desert’ crisis

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) - Efforts continue to help with the so-called `food desert` striking Northeast Oklahoma City.

City Council members agreed Tuesday to extend the emergency declaration on certain small discount stores throughout the 73111-zip code.

City Councilwoman Nikki Nice believes everyone should have access to healthy food, but it's a different story for some in her district.

“We need to introduce healthy options," she said. "If they don`t have healthy options, then shame on us for not allowing them to have that.”

In the 73111-zip code, Nice says there is an abundance of fast food options and convenience stores, but a lack of full-service grocery stores.

In May, City Council passed the `The Healthy Neighborhood Overlay District,' an emergency declaration to lure more grocery stores to the area and prevent what they call `small box discount stores` from opening if they didn't have space for fresh fruit, vegetables and meat.

The City Council voted Tuesday to extend the declaration until after the holidays.

“We`re not going to stop asking and letting the community know about healthier outcomes. This is one of the ways we can show we are committed to healthier outcomes,” Nice said.

But grocery stores continue to close. In July, News 4 reported the Smart Saver Grocery Store on the corner of Northeast 23rd and Martin Luther King shut down with little notice. It was the last grocery store in Northeast Oklahoma City.

Nice and her team hopes with the extended emergency declaration, they can create more enticing ways for more grocery stores to come into the area.

Homeland announced in August it would build a new 30,000 square foot grocery store at Northeast 36th and Lincoln. But that's just outside the 73111-zip code.  It's expected to open in late 2020 or early 2021.

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