After their neighborhood became a food desert, disabled residents are fighting back
Gina Magee was completely dependent on a caregiver to grocery shop. She used to be able to ride her motorized wheelchair to the Birchwood neighborhood Albertsons grocery store to shop for herself, but since it closed four years ago, there is no longer a grocery store close enough. "They took my independence," Magee said. Gina Magee was diagnosed with bone cancer 10 years ago, she had chronic pain from experiencing domestic violence, and she had a stroke and a heart attack. She spent most of her days in her Birchwood Manor apartment resting, and was visited by a caregiver four days per week to help with housework, cooking, and errands. Magee said that a lot of her neighbors in Birchwood Manor depended on the close proximity to a grocery store. "So many people are disabled at Birchwood Manor and when Albertsons closed, it really hurt us," she said. Though the nearest grocery store is about a mile away from her home, it was too far for her to take her motorized wheelchair and be able to shop by herself. When Albertsons closed four years ago, there was a non-compete clause put in place to prevent other grocery stores from moving in to that shopping center. Magee joined the Birchwood Food Desert Fighters to demand a grocery store move back in to the Birchwood neighborhood. "It is just hard," she said. "This is hard on everybody." Magee passed away before she could realize this vision for her neighborhood. But it continues on through her neighbors still fighting for a grocery store.