The closing of a neighborhood grocery that some residents have been using since they were children is a significant loss to the South Side, according to RiverStone Health chief executive John Felton.

“When you take a fresh food source out of a neighborhood, it’s a double whammy for the folks who don’t have a car to hop in and go across town,” he said.

All three South Side U.S. Census tracts are considered “food deserts,” said Felton, who also serves as Yellowstone County’s health officer.

Lack of fresh food and convenient shopping can encourage the consumption of too much processed and high-calorie food. And that can lead to obesity. 

Seventy-three percent of Yellowstone County residents are already obese or overweight, Felton said. 

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Business editor for the Billings Gazette.