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Dollar General offering produce at Little Rock stores

Daniel Breen
Business and political leaders, including Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. and U.S. Rep. French Hill, pose for a photo at the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday.

Discount retailer Dollar General says ten of its locations across Little Rock are now offering fresh produce.

Company officials joined Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. in announcing the initiative Tuesday at the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce. The stores are now stocked with the top 20 produce items found in grocery stores, like tomatoes, onions and apples.

Scott says he hopes it will alleviate the problem of some neighborhoods not having easy access to grocery stores.

“We went on a long journey in identifying an alternative grocer… and the journey has not stopped. But through the fruit of that labor, we’ve had the opportunity to encounter Dollar General,” Scott said. “They’ve been an innovator in understanding the communities where they reside, many of which are low-income communities.”

Scott said the city had been in talks to bring retailers to serve food deserts in the city, but those plans ultimately fell through. Steve Brophy, vice president of public policy and governmental affairs at Dollar General, says the company is aware of its role serving communities.

“Dollar General is not a full-service grocer. We consider ourselves to be today’s general store, providing nearby and affordable access to household essentials including the components to a nutritious diet,” Brophy said.

Brophy says nationwide about 2,300 Dollar General stores currently serve fresh produce, with the goal of eventually expanding to as many as 10,000 stores.

A number of Little Rock neighborhoods are considered “food deserts,” typically low-income areas where residents have limited access to affordable, healthy foods. Much of central, eastern and southwest Little Rock are classified as food deserts according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service.

Daniel Breen is a Little Rock-based reporter, anchor and producer for KUAR.