OKC Council advances ordinance on ‘food deserts’

The Oklahoma City council will be asked Tuesday to take a step toward limiting the proliferation of junk food in northeast Oklahoma City.

The city manager is seeking authority to initiate an application, on the city’s behalf, to create a “healthy neighborhood overlay” zoning district within the boundaries of the 73111 ZIP code.

Zoning terms would restrict development of “small-box discount stores,” such as Dollar General, unless they include a pharmacy or provide at least 500 square feet of retail space for fresh meats, fruits and vegetables.

The zoning restrictions are meant to attack the problem of “food deserts” that lack full-service grocery stores. Advocates of the idea say it is hard for full-service groceries to compete with small-box discounters, leaving many residents in high-poverty areas without access to nutritious food choices.

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