BRADFORD, Ark. – At the grocery store, you can find all the things you could ever want or need, but when the only food center in Bradford went up in flames over the weekend, people in the community now fear the town might become a food desert.
It began with smoke pouring out of the kitchen, then a flash of flames, and the Bradford Hometown Food Center went up in flames.
“We get a phone call around 3:43 a.m. Saturday that it’s on fire,” owner Scott McCall said.
The McCalls bought the store five years ago when the owner was going to close the door, something Leveta McCall said she couldn’t let happen.
The McCalls said it is a place many go to get their weekly groceries, now boarded up, and the letters melted off.
“What do we do now, what do our employees do now? We had a good group of employees,” Leveta McCall said.
Although, an even greater fear Scott McCall said is the fear of how much this will impact the town.
“We are now a food desert, it’s going to be very difficult for a lot of people to get good food, I don’t know when and how we can fix it, and we are evaluating all of that as we speak,” Scott McCall said.
A town can become a food desert if it has limited access to affordable and nutritious food, and now the closest place for those in Bradford and surrounding areas is around 20 minutes.
“There is a lot of research that shows that towns that don’t have grocery stores begin to fade away,” McCall stated. “A town without a grocery store doesn’t have much of a future.”
Now the McCall family and their employees are gathered to try and pick up the pieces.
“Today reality set in, this morning… what’s going to go on,” Leveta McCall said.
Board by board, and piece by piece, they said they will be moving forward, putting all of their trust in their faith.
“We believe that God’s got a plan, we believe in that, and we have people praying and we are going to know when the time is right, what to do, He will take care of that,” Leveta McCall said.
According to the Bradford Fire Department, they are still investigating the true cause of the fire.