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City launches Eastside produce stand

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The city of Charleston has partnered with area farmers to launch an Eastside produce stand after the closure last month of the Bi-Lo at 445 Meeting St.

The Eastside neighborhood’s closest grocery stores are now more than 1 mile away, and the lack of a neighborhood grocery store has created a produce void, according to officials.

The closure of the Bi-Lo at 445 Meeting St. has spurred the city to partner with other agencies and farmers to fill a healthy food void on the Eastside. (Photo/Liz Segrist)Eastside Produce at Hampstead Square launches on Saturday. It will operate from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. Saturdays and Tuesdays in the southwest quadrant of Hampstead Square, off Columbus Street.

The produce stand will begin with Joseph Fields Farm and Oliver Freeman Farm, which accept cash, credit or debit cards, SNAP/EBT, WIC and senior vouchers.

“The sudden closing of the Meeting Street Bi-Lo left our Eastside residents without a convenient way to purchase fresh produce,” Mayor John Tecklenburg said in a news release. “We knew we had to move quickly to find a solution.”

The city also has launched an East Side Grocery Resources page on its website, listing places where residents can get groceries, prescriptions and other items.

As part of a plan by the city to provide food access to area residents, Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority is running its King Street Route 20 (.pdf) free through Oct. 29. The bus route includes stop at the former Bi-Lo site and the Food Lion and CVS shopping center at 1015 King St., on the north side of the Crosstown Expressway.

The current land owner, Mount Pleasant-based McAlister Development Co., has not shared its plans for the site. The city said it will work with the developer to bring a grocer back to the site.

Reach Liz Segrist at 843-849-3119.

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