North Flint business owner, family man, native and Flint raconteur Senegal Tuklor Williams (or T for short) says the push to bring grocery stores back into north Flint is long overdue. It comes down to time and choices, says Williams, who owns a natural oils store on North Saginaw Street.
“See you have to figure the people here that have to go to work are using the bus, maybe riding a bike or catching a ride,” he said. “They’ve got to plan, sometimes their whole week, into just getting to the store, so some might opt out for the unhealthier choice.”
Williams grocery store commute is typically about 15 minutes to get to the Flint Farmer’s Market. It is open on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays with lots of produce to choose from, but when that is not available he heads into Flint Township, a trip that takes him 20 to 30 minutes.
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“I don’t think others realize how hard people work around here,” Williams says. “You have to understand, you got people that work all day and don’t have time to make another long commute after not making much money.”
Williams says he also hears regularly from his neighbors that they are looking for better choices. While access to healthy foods has been a long-standing issue in Flint, it rose in prominence in the wake of the Flint water crisis and the key role diet plays in remediating the effects of lead in children
“I believe there is some enlightenment taking place, because before people may not have realized they’re acting sluggish half the day because they’re eating garbage,” he says. “People are reading more and asking more questions,” he said.
“After everything that has been going on people are examining their lives, they’re looking at Google and learning—expecting—better, because we are beginning to realize, we deserve better.”