Stacks of red, yellow and blue containers line the Hispanic food aisle in an Erwin store. Some gleam with pictures of sliced cactus, others with colorful whole peppers and sauce-covered beans.
For residents like Connie Saldaña, finding these ingredients once meant a trip to a specialty market. Today, she goes to nearby chain stores to buy most of the ingredients to make authentic enchiladas, homemade Spanish rice and hot tamales.
“Most of the time Wal-Mart, and sometimes Food City, will have a lot of the Mexican food,” Saldaña said. “It’s just the way you put it together to give it the flavor that you want.”
While most potential homebuyers secure loans from banks, many are now looking to programs offered by government agencies and non-profit organizations to ease some of the financial burden of buying a house.
Government agencies such as U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development office and the Tennessee Housing Development Authority will often work with non-profit organizations, such as Eastern Eight Community Development Corp., to meet the needs of low- to middle-income families looking for homes in Northeast Tennessee.
The American Obesity Association reports that obesity in the United States occurs at higher rates among blacks and Hispanic Americans than white non-Hispanics. The difficulty with obesity is that it leads to other health problems such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure, experts say.
Of these heath problems, local health professionals say diabetes appears to be the prevalent problem for the Hispanic population in the Tri-Cities.
Sending money home is one way that immigrants show love for their families. For some local workers, that means a trip to La Mexicana, a store at 709 S. Roan St., Johnson City.
Carlos Martinez is one patron of the downtown store. Whenever he has enough money from his factory job, he sends as much as he can home. “In Mexico my dad is not working right now so it is important for my family,” said Martinez, who has been working in America more than four years.
Come November, some members of Unicoi County’s Hispanic community intend to make their voices heard by voting in the presidential election. But getting people to the polls is the first step.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Hispanics represented 6 percent of voters in the 2004 election, when 47 percent of Hispanic citizens cast their ballots. That year, President George W. Bush won 44 percent of the Hispanic vote, compared to 35 percent in 2000.