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Colleges see big drop in foreign-language enrollment; Kentucky advocates say it's time to bury medical debt; Young Farmers in Michigan hope the new farm bill will include key benefits regarding land access.

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The White House presses for supplemental Ukraine aid. Leaders condemn antisemitic attacks during Gaza ceasefire protests. Despite concerns about the next election, one Arizona legal expert says courts generally side with voters and democracy.

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Congress has iced the Farm Bill, but farmer advocates argue some portions are urgent, the Hoosier State is reaping big rewards from wind and solar, and opponents react to a road through Alaska's Brooks Range, long a dream destination for hunters and anglers.

In ND Food Desert, Town Gets Funds for 'Self-Service' Grocery Store

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Monday, July 17, 2023   

In recent years, North Dakota's smaller towns have seen at least 15% of their grocery stores disappear. That's prompted a flurry of action, including a local solution tied to an annual grant program.

Munich is a city of less than two hundred people in northeastern North Dakota.

The area's development arm has been awarded a grant through AARP's Community Challenge program, because the community's lone grocery store - which is nonprofit - struggles to keep regular hours amid operational challenges.

Steve Zimmer, a member of the Munich Area Development Corporation board, said the funds will come in handy as they look to avoid seeing their one option suffer the fate of many others.

"There's two options," said Zimmer. "It was to close the store or to try to do something different - and that's the route that we chose, using technology that we have available to us."

Zimmer said they're putting together a plan where local residents will be given electronic key access to shop whenever they want, using a self-checkout system. He said that cuts down on staffing needs and could prompt customers to come more often.

If it works, organizers say the extra revenue would allow them to expand their inventory of healthy products, and possibly start a delivery service to nearby towns.

Janelle Moos, the advocacy director for AARP North Dakota, said it's encouraging to see solutions like these take shape under the grant program.

"This was our highest-ever round of applicants," said Moos. "We had over 56 applications and obviously, we can't fund all of those. But what we know is that communities are really looking for funding to help meet the needs in their communities."

While these are intended to be quick turnaround projects, Moos said the grants can often be a springboard to long-term action.

This year, AARP awarded six Community Challenge grants to North Dakota organizations, totaling more than $67,000.



Disclosure: AARP North Dakota contributes to our fund for reporting on Civic Engagement, Community Issues and Volunteering, Health Issues, Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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