Charlotte, NC

Queen City Roundup 2/21: More fruits and veggies in Charlotte, CMS drops COVID policies, NC district maps and more!

Collin Cunningham

By Collin Cunningham

(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) Happy Monday, Charlotte! It is Feb. 21 and more fruits and vegetables are on the way to Charlotte stores as Mecklenburg County pours support into a produce program. Today's Roundup also has the latest on Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, which is ending some COVID-19 guidelines for students ahead of a Tuesday vote on masking.

We also have updates on lamakers' district maps for the North Carolina House and Senate, which have to be approved before Wednesday. And a few more Black History Month events will help readers round out February with educational opportunities.

Here's what every resident of the Queen City needs to know until tomorrow.

1. Pro-produce program: Mecklenburg initiative brings more fruits, vegetables to grocery stores

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Stores that want to apply for HCS designation can contact Meck. Co. Health Policy Coordinator Emma León at 980-314-9062(Courtesy of Mecklenburg County)

What's happening: Mecklenburg County's Health Corner Stores initiative aims to add oases to food deserts around Charlotte. The county program outfits grocery stores with new signage and equipment so long as they promise to sell at least six items that are deemed healthy, including fruits, vegetables and water.

La Luna Tienda Latina on Central Avenue near the city's Windsor Park neighborhood is the latest grocer to benefit from HCS, receiving its first refrigerator that allows co-owner Marta Montoya to stock mangoes, grapes and apples, among other nourishing foods. HCS has provided refrigerators to five stores and added produce to 24 outlets after expanding in 2021.

Why it matters: According to the county, almost 15% of Mecklenburg households are food insecure, meaning they don't have access to a full range of nutrition options.

The news of La Luna's refrigerators comes a week after Charlotte City Council voted to give $1.5 million to Carolina Farm Trust to help bring a new grocery store and food distribution center online in west Charlotte by 2023, per WSOC.

2. COVID at CMS: District ends contact tracing, changes quarantines ahead of masking vote

What happened: Following recommendations from North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper and Mecklenburg County commissioners, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools officials could vote to end its districtwide mask mandate at this week's school board meeting.

The school informed parents via email on Friday that CMS would no longer conduct contact tracing when students and staff test positive for the coronavirus. Students and employees who contract COVID-19 still have to quarantine for five days.

Why it matters: The district's decision to repeal measures effective Monday could set the stage for school board members to vote to end masking at all CMS buildings when they meet at 5 p.m. Tuesday. During the week of Feb. 9 to 15, the latest with data available, the district's COVID-19 dashboard shows 320 positive cases among students and 77 employees with infections.

Board members will hold a special meeting to discuss CMS' 2022-2023 budget on Thursday.

3. Back to the maps: Judges consider redrawn NC House and Senate districts

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Approved on Thursday, North Carolina lawmakers' latest congressional map budgets 10 of 14 U.S. House districts to Republicans(North Carolina General Assembly)

It's up to a three-judge trial court to decide if the new House, Senate and congressional district maps approved by the North Carolina General Assembly on Thursday are constitutional or guilty of gerrymandering. The North Carolina Supreme Court tossed lawmakers' previous maps on Feb. 4, saying they granted GOP lawmakers an unfair advantage, per The Associated Press.

The judges will submit their verdict on the trio of maps Wednesday, which is one day before candidate filing resumes for the May 17 general election. Filing initially began in December of 2021, but the state high court paused the process two days later so it could postpone the election from March 8.

4. Black History Month in Charlotte: Close out February with a few more celebrations of African-American culture in the Queen City

Black History Month has been well-represented in Charlotte this year, with local publications, universities and organizations collecting and sharing the past, present and future of African-American excellence in the Queen City. Here is a handful of events and resources to help readers continue exploring Black culture through the rest of February and the remainder of 2022.

Wednesday, Feb. 23:

The Charlotte Mecklenburg Library is encouraging parents to spend their lunch break with two of the system's outreach specialists to learn about how positive discussions regarding race can foster positive parent-child relationships.

The last in the Harvey B. Gantt Center's four-part series on Black art, Wednesday's virtual discussion will set a road map for Charlotteans who want to support Black creatives. Leading the talk is Yvonne Bynoe, who spotlights Black artists on her Instagram.

Thursday, Feb. 24:

Ever wonder about the lawyer who lent a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools high school its name? The Gantt Center is premiering a documentary focusing on Julius L. Chambers' history in the region and contributions to the legal arm of the NAACP.

Saturday, Feb. 26:

This event welcomes Charlotteans to the Charlotte Museum of HIstory's latest showing: "A Better Life for Their Children: Julius Rosenwald, Booker T. Washington, and the 4,978 Schools that Changed America." Expect a daylong event with music, dance, discussions and no-cost admission.

More Black History Month readings:

  • Food Network featured an all-Black cast on "Chopped" for the first time in February, and Charlotte chef Lisa Brooks had her first televised appearance on the program. Read more on WCNC.
  • History South has a comprehensive library of links listing learning resources that detail the experience of Black people in Charlotte. Readers could spend hours educating themselves on the history of African-Americans in the Charlotte metropolitan area via the website's landing page.
  • Sunday's Daytona 500 marked the most black NASCAR team owners to participate in the flagship event, and The Charlotte Observer delved into what that means for the future of the sport and the business conducted around it.

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I cover the city of Charlotte, North Carolina for NewsBreak's Creator Program. Check back often for daily headline roundups to learn what's happening in the Queen City!

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