Beyond Food Access: Accumulation by Dispossession and Dollar General in Central Appalachia

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Virginia Tech


Dollar General has seen massive growth, opening almost 1,000 stores per year for ten years. Executives attribute the company's success to their attention to the expanding poverty class in low-food-access urban and rural areas. Central Appalachia in particular -- which has one of the highest rates of low food access and poverty in the nation -- has been a growth center for Dollar General stores. Has the growth in Dollar General stores in Central Appalachia affected residents' food procurement patterns? Through an analysis of USDA data on food access and by conducting interviews with 11 people living in Central Appalachia, I find that Dollar General stores are most frequently found in low-income and low-food-access counties and that Central Appalachian people perceive the chain as a necessary evil. I argue that the complicated relationship between Dollar General and Central Appalachian people is an example of David Harvey's theory of accumulation by dispossession. Neoliberal globalization created the conditions that allow Dollar General to thrive in the region – in particular, the corporate enclosure of the commons, the decline of the coal industry, and the new economy which has forced many people to travel hours a day for work.



Dollar General, Central Appalachia, food access, food deserts, food insecurity