Food deserts are places where residents have limited access to nutritious, inexpensive meals ( 1 ,2). Food deserts, also known as healthy food priority regions, are concentrated in low-income and historically disadvantaged areas throughout the United States, with the majority of them located in low-income and historically marginalized communities ( 1 ,2,3, 4 ). Food deserts are areas where healthful foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy, peas, beans, meat, and fish are either prohibitively costly or impossible to get.
Food deserts are discussed in this article, including their causes, health consequences, and proposed solutions.
Public policy and economic activities that are rooted in systemic racism are frequently implicated in this phenomenon.
In low-income and historically marginalized communities, problems such as food poverty, social determinants of health, racial residential segregation, and limited access to transportation are all variables that contribute to health inequalities ( 1 , 7 ,8,9).
Apartheid is a system of racial segregation that is enforced. “Food apartheid,” on the other hand, is a newly coined phrase that seeks to address the underlying causes of insufficient access to good, nutrient-dense foods by communities of color and low-income white individuals. A growing number of food activists such as Karen Washington, Malik Yakini, and Dara Cooper think that this word more appropriately describes the systematic racism and health disparities that exist in a corporate-controlled food system.
For example, the phrase “desert” conjures up images of a natural, desolate area, and the notion that expanding the number of food shops is a rapid remedy is promoted.
A better approach is to address the underlying causes of bad food environments and health inequities in mostly low-income communities of color, which is known as “food apartheid.”
According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), 17.4 million American families were food insecure in 2014, according to their estimations (9). Food security is defined as the availability of adequate healthy foods to all people at all times, both physically and economically. It is food insecurity that happens when this access is disturbed or constrained (10). Temporary food insecurity, such as running out of food for a day or two, can lead to long-term food insecurity as demonstrated by chronic poverty and limited access to food (10).
Food insecurity is 2.5 times as prevalent among low-income groups living in food deserts than it is in the general population (9).
Social determinants of health
The social determinants of health are elements that are out of your control, such as access to healthcare or transportation, and that have an impact on your overall health and well-being. These elements have a significant influence in the development of food deserts (11). Income, community infrastructure, and access to supermarkets are all factors that impact the availability of nutritious meals. Other socioeconomic determinants of health that may play a role in the development of food deserts include as follows (1, 8, 11, 12):
- Education, employment, and job training, socioeconomic status and concentrated poverty, access to healthcare, access to local food markets and fresh produce, access to transportation, racial segregation, and public safety are all important considerations.
Food deserts are characterized by health inequalities that include high prevalence of chronic illnesses among historically marginalized and low-income populations, as well as high incidence of obesity and diabetes ( 1 ,2, 7 ,11).
Low-income neighborhoods contain a disproportionately large number of Black and Latino people, who are disproportionately disadvantaged by inadequate food availability ( 1 , 7 ,9). It has been demonstrated repeatedly that racial segregation places historically underprivileged communities, notably Black people, in economically depressed neighborhoods ( 7 ,9). In 2016, as compared to the national average, Black families were two times more likely to be food insecure, and Hispanic households had a higher incidence of food insecurity than other ethnic groups in the United States (9).
Transportation and proximity to supermarkets
The distance between supermarkets in food deserts is greater than the distance between supermarkets in affluent communities ( 7 , 12 ). Furthermore, mostly Black and Hispanic communities have fewer supermarkets and local food markets — which generally offer inexpensive and healthy produce — than predominantly white neighborhoods, according to the Urban Institute ( 1 ,6, 7 ,9, 12 ,13). Families in food deserts, as a result, do not have equitable access to the nutritious foods that are available to white and affluent neighborhoods (6).
- Essentially, food deserts are a result of food apartheid, and its underlying causes include food instability, racial segregation, closeness to supermarkets, access to transportation, and a variety of other socioeconomic variables.
- The number of food insecure families in the United States was projected to be 71.4 million in 2014, with 31.6 percent of low-income households experiencing food insecurity in 2016.
- It is possible to view an interactive map showing food insecurity, socioeconomic circumstances, and proximity to supermarkets on the Food Environment Atlas, which was established by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) (14).
- However, only Nevada, New York, and Rhode Island saw a significant increase in the percentage of households experiencing very low food insecurity (14).
- Residents of the United States’ Southwest, Midwest, Northwest, and Florida regions have limited access to grocery shops, but families without access to a car and limited food availability are more typical in the Northeast and Southeast (14).
- Overall, food deserts are projected to be common throughout the United States.
- Diet and nutrition have a significant impact in the development of chronic illness (15, 16 ).
- Reduced availability to inexpensive, healthful meals among low-income and food-insecure areas adds to poor nutrition and maintains health inequities, resulting in increased incidence of obesity and other chronic diseases among these populations ( 1 , 7 ,9,13,15, 16 ,17, 18 ).
People with chronic conditions who live in food deserts may become trapped in a vicious cycle in which they rely on convenience stores and corner stores, which typically sell pricey items with little nutritional value, thus reducing their ability to purchase nutritious foods in the future ( 18 ).
Understanding food deserts as a kind of food apartheid not only tackles their underlying causes, but it also calls into question the quality of the remedies that are frequently offered as a result.
Simply expanding access to low-cost food does not result in more equitable access to inexpensive and nutritious foods for everybody (13).
Maintaining a focus on the fact that significant structural and policy reforms are required in order to achieve equitable food access Nonetheless, you may begin working on community-based solutions to enhance access to inexpensive healthful foods in food deserts as early as today ( 7 , 20 ).
Community gardens not only help to create green areas and beautify the neighborhood, but they also provide fresh, nutritious produce and inspire people to eat more healthfully. Aside from that, they provide fundamental skills and information about environmental issues such as planting techniques and where food comes from. Finally, communal gardens have the potential to encourage people to invest in their own health.
Farmers markets, arabbers, and roadside carts
Community markets encourage the use of locally produced goods as well as the consumption of cultural cuisines that are both appealing to the general public and beneficial to a balanced diet. Farmers markets allow you to shop directly from producers while also supporting a flourishing local economy. Arabbers, who are street vendors that sell fruits and vegetables from horse-drawn carts, as well as wayside produce carts, may also help to establish economic possibilities and enhance food availability in food-deficient communities.
Surplus food sharing
Food sharing partnerships and alliances may help to balance out food waste from wealthier communities with limited food availability in food deserts, so promoting more efficient food economies and reducing food waste. Food rescue groups will even accept food that would otherwise be thrown out at grocery stores owing to flaws or physical abnormalities — but that is still perfectly edible — and resale it at a reasonable price to those who cannot afford it.
Federal resources for low-income people to get healthy foods
- SNAP provides cash support to low-income households while also providing nutritional benefits. The Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program provides monthly nutrition packages, incentives for nursing mothers, and benefits for children under the age of five. The National Council on Aging (NCOA) provides support to low-income older persons who are suffering from hunger in their communities.
Nongovernmental food assistance programs
- SNAP provides nutritional benefits as well as cash support to low-income households. A monthly nutrition package, incentives for nursing mothers, and advantages for children up to the age of five are all provided under the WIC program. Low-income older individuals who are battling hunger can receive help from the National Council on Aging (NCOA).
SummaryLocal markets, community gardens, surplus food sharing programs, government food assistance programs, and food pantries are examples of community-based initiatives to enhance access to inexpensive, healthful meals in food deserts. If you need emergency food assistance, call the USDA’s National Hunger Hotline at 1-866-3-HUNGRY (1-866-348-6479) or 1-877-8-HAMBRE (1-877-842-6273), which is open Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST).
How to improve your nutrition on a budget
No matter how tight your budget is or where you live, there are different methods to consume healthy foods on a limited budget or without access to high-quality, fresh produce. Here are a few examples (23):
- Invest on canned or frozen foods. Fresh meat, fruits, and vegetables are more expensive than canned or frozen foods, but they are also more nutritious and last longer when compared to fresh alternatives. When feasible, choose canned foods that are low in sodium. Nonmeat protein sources can also be considered. For many people, meat represents a significant component of their food expenditures, particularly in the winter. Dried peas and beans have the same amount of protein as meat, but they are less expensive and stay longer. Foods that are in season should be purchased. When it comes to fruits and vegetables, in-season product is simpler to come by and less expensive than out-of-season stuff. Visit roadside booths or other local markets to purchase small amounts of fresh vegetables if they are available in your region in order to reduce food waste. Leftovers should be frozen. Freeze leftovers for reheating later in the week to save money and reduce food waste. It is also possible to reuse leftovers. Take, for example, ordinary rice leftover from Sunday supper, which may be transformed into veggie rice for Monday or Tuesday.
For those on a tight budget, storing leftovers, increasing your intake of peas and beans, purchasing canned foods, and shopping for in-season vegetables are all effective techniques for saving money while still eating healthy. If you are suffering from hunger, you can contact the USDA’s National Hunger Hotline. Food deserts, which are areas where healthy food is either difficult to get or prohibitively costly, are most common in low-income and historically disenfranchised groups.
The high rates of food insecurity, racial and health inequities, as well as the high incidence of chronic illnesses, distinguish these communities. Several federal and non-profit initiatives are aimed at increasing access to nutritious foods in food deserts.
5 Innovative Solutions to Food Deserts
Food deserts are regions where it is difficult to obtain fresh produce. Food deserts, as defined by the USDA as “parts of the country devoid of fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthful whole foods, which are typically found in impoverished areas,” are primarily caused by a scarcity of grocery stores, farmers markets, and other healthy food providers in these communities. They have the potential to make a substantial contribution to food insecurity. A flawed food system that creates an alarming amount of waste while simultaneously leaving entire populations with limited access to food, as evidenced by the fact that food deserts are most commonly located in low-income areas, is the cause of food deserts.
There are a variety of solutions being tested to bring food into these food deserts, with some of the most intriguing and effective ones being developed by grassroots projects that engage directly with the people who live in the neighborhoods they serve.
Here are our top five picks for you.
1. Food Co-ops
If you are unable to persuade large grocery chains to expand their operations into your community, consider establishing a local food cooperative. It is no small endeavor, but worker-owned cooperatives have the potential to build the local economy, create employment, empower people to take their lives and work into their own hands, and alleviate food insecurity by empowering them to do so. For example, the Wirth Cooperative Grocery in North Minneapolis, Minnesota, and the Renaissance Community Cooperative in Northeast Greensboro, North Carolina, are two contemporary instances of food co-ops that have taken on this task.
2. Mobile Food Market
The Mobile Food Marketprovides fresh, high-quality, culturally relevant, and inexpensive meals to those living in food deserts in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and the surrounding area. In order to achieve its goals of establishing healthy, equitable and sustainable food systems while also fostering community participation, the initiative collaborates with producers, charities, corporations, governments, and community organizations.
3. Bus Stop Farmers Markets
The key to bringing food into food deserts is to make it as simple as possible for individuals to get their hands on fresh, nutritious foods. Farmer’s markets at bus stops place food where people already are, making it easier for them to fill up on fresh fruits and vegetables on their way home from the office.
4. Ujamaa Freedom Market
Ujamaa Freedom Market is a worker-owned cooperative mobile market that operates in the city of Ujamaa. Weekly, the market delivers fresh fruits and vegetables, nutritious prepared foods, home products, and personal care items to impoverished neighborhoods in and around Asheville, North Carolina, according to the organization’s website.
TheGreen Cartsproject in New York City is another example of a mobile food cart that provides nutritious meals to those in food-scarce regions.
5. LA Kitchen
LA Kitchen is a Los Angeles-based enterprise that recovers fresh, local food from the waste stream to feed the poor while also providing culinary training to unemployed adults, notably those who have just been released from jail or who are aging out of the foster care system. The meals that program members prepare are provided to the most disadvantaged people in the community, with a particular emphasis on the elderly. Despite the fact that LA Kitchen is not explicitly concerned with alleviating food deserts, it does provide fresh meals to individuals who otherwise would not have access to them.
Articles that are related:
- Food desert solutions that include the entire community
- Food desert in North Minneapolis will be transformed by a new cooperative
- Learn how food co-ops are altering the food deserts of Quebec.
How to Fix One of the Worst Healthy Food ‘Deserts’ in America
An arts and culture center, a textile museum, and an American World War II memorial park may be found in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. Grocery stores, on the other hand, are absent. In this metropolis of 43,000 people, there is just one Price Rite, which is nestled away in the extreme northeast part of the city. Thus, the bulk of the town’s population live more than a mile away from a supermarket or large grocery shop, which is a significant disadvantage. Woonsocket, Rhode Island, a town with a 22 percent poverty rate and located in a state with the unfortunate distinction of having the highest number of low-income food deserts in the United States, has become a poster child for the problem: Despite the fact that the city has a population of only 4 percent of the state’s total, it is the state’s most severe food desert, with estimates indicating that two out of every five residents have difficulty accessing affordable foods, whether because of financial difficulties, a lack of transportation, or a combination of the two.
Local resident Charmaine Webster witnesses the extent of the food desert every Tuesday when she goes to the one local farmers market, which is co-hosted by her employer, the community health center Thundermist Health, and the non-profit Farm Fresh Rhode Island, which is co-hosted by her employer, the nonprofit Farm Fresh Rhode Island.
- “It’s simply that they’ve become so acclimated to the status quo.” When it comes to the farmers market, Webster’s focus is mainly on health: She distributes informational booklets about COVID-19 vaccinations to anyone who ask for them.
- Farm Fresh adopts a multifaceted strategy to ensuring that everyone has access to nutritious food: The organization provides cooking lessons, farmers markets, and educational initiatives, all of which are intended to assist individuals in making healthier food decisions.
- (Image courtesy of Ryan David Brown/VICE News) However, this is where things become difficult: It appears that even if Farm Freshcould construct a farmers market on every corner in Woonsocket, it would not make a difference in the fact that richer people buy and eat better food.
- On its website, the USDA provides official definitions, as well as mapping tools that allows you to zoom in to census tract level.
- Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on government grants with the goal of closing the nutrition gap across economic classes by providing low-income communities with additional sources of nutritious food.
- (Image courtesy of Ryan David Brown/VICE News) The disparity in nutrition between high- and low-income Americans is significant.
- Low-income Americans, on the other hand, consume five more sugary beverages each week than their higher-income counterparts.
However, this is not a feasible option.
Allcott contrasted the sorts of food purchases people made before and after the new supermarkets opened, using data from the Nielsen Company, which records consumer spending trends.
They claim that the remaining 91 percent is due to a lack of demand.
Sheri Griffin is 51 years old.
A survey conducted by Allcott found that individuals living in food deserts still purchased 85 percent of their food from supermarkets or major grocery stores.
However, a shorter car or bus journey to the shop does not have a significant impact on what consumers buy once they get there.
Healthy calories are more costly, according to certain measures.
“It’s going to be a lot cheaper to buy a bunch of ramen noodles than it is to buy a bunch of fresh fruits and vegetables.” There may be a lack of understanding regarding the sorts of foods that are considered healthy: Potato chips are clearly inferior than carrots, but what about white rice against brown rice?
- According to Gans, the fact that junk-food and fast-food advertisements are deliberately targeted at low-income individuals only serves to exacerbate the situation.
- The mother of four children who works two jobs and remembers that the farmers market is open on Wednesdays from 4 to 6 p.m.
- The Somerset Community Garden, which first opened its doors in 1983, is the oldest garden operated by Southside Community Land Trust.
- A form of soda tax extension has been proposed by him and his colleagues, in which unhealthy goods are taxed more heavily and the proceeds are used to support better items.
- The Healthy Incentives Pilot, as it was dubbed, discovered that when SNAP beneficiaries were given an additional 30 cents on the dollar to spend on healthy items, they spent it on fruits and vegetables, which increased by 25 percent.
- Allcott believes that this money may come in the shape of an expansion, or it could simply come from reconfiguring the program’s present structure.
Farm Fresh was one of several charity organizations that received funding as a result of the USDA’s Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program, which aims to make SNAP payments go farther when they are used to purchase nutritious meals.
And, once again, these government incentives do not apply to food businesses that are for profit.
(Photo courtesy of Ryan) (Image courtesy of David Brown/VICE News) When it’s all said and done, Griffin adds, the ultimate consequence is a sense of hopelessness, as small NGOs are left to try to fix a problem that is far larger than they can handle.
That is not to suggest that farmers markets do not provide advantages other than attempting to address the nutrition gap; on the contrary, they do.
According to Barros, a significant portion of their work involves assisting immigrants in their search for culturally suitable meals.
Barros assists individuals in growing crops such as sweet potato greens, bitterball, and long greens, all of which are difficult to come by in supermarkets.
It isn’t really important whether or not these initiatives make a quantitative effect in bridging the nutritional gap, according to Barros.
“We’d like to accomplish something simple,” they explained. “We want to bring food to the people.” The Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University is a sponsor of this series of lectures. VICE News retains total editorial control over its content.
In recognition of the problem with the term “food desert,” which according to the USDA is defined primarily by proximity to food providers without taking into account other factors such as racism, cost of living, people being time and cash poor, cultural appropriateness of available foods, people’s ability to grow their own foods and so on, the Food Empowerment Project (F.E.P.) has developed a model that takes into account all of these factors.
- Food Apartheid and Food Oppression are more appropriate phrases, according to the Food and Environment Project, but because food desert is the term that is most widely used, we have chosen to use it as our title.
- The Economic Research Service of the United States Department of Agriculture recently issued a report for Congress that found that 2.3 million persons (or 2.2 percent of all US families) live more than one mile distant from a supermarket and do not have access to a vehicle.
- However, economic forces have driven grocery stores out of many cities in recent years, making them so few and far between that a single person’s food shopping trip may require taking multiple buses or trains.
- As demonstrated by the Food Empowerment Project’s study, “Shining a Light on the Valley of Heart’s Delight(PDF),” it is easy to ignore towns that are located in food deserts when depending solely on statistics gathered by the United States Department of Agriculture.
Thus, a municipality with no supermarket and just two corner grocery stores that sell booze and food would be considered to have two retail food outlets, even though the variety of foods served may be relatively restricted and consist primarily of fast food.” Residents of food deserts may also have difficulty locating foods that are culturally appropriate for them, and dietary restrictions, such as lactose intolerance, gluten allergies, and other food sensitivities, may limit the food options available to those who do not have access to larger chain stores that offer a wider variety of foods and ingredients.
In addition, research have indicated that urban residents who shop for food at small neighborhood businesses spend between 3 and 37 percent more than suburbanites who shop for the same things at supermarkets, depending on the commodity.
For example, whereas the total price of fruits and vegetables in the United States climbed by over 75% between 1989 and 2005, the overall price of fatty meals decreased by more than 26% during the same period.
While unhealthy eating may be more cost-effective in the short term, the long-term consequences of limited access to healthy foods are one of the primary reasons that ethnic minorities and low-income populations have statistically higher rates of obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other diet-related conditions than the general population in the United States.
Only twenty years ago, type 2 diabetes was almost unknown among those under the age of 40.
Among recent years, the incidence of type 2 diabetes has increased across all demographic groups; however, the highest increases have been seen in black and brown populations.
These are also the populations that are most likely to live in food deserts, and studies have shown a clear link between food insecurity and an increase in the number of people who develop diabetes.
In order to explain this discrepancy, researchers emphasize that the high-calorie foods that are most readily available in food deserts put residents living in these areas at greater risk for diabetes in the first place, and that having limited access to healthy foods also makes it more difficult for them to manage diabetes once they are diagnosed with the disease.
One of the most important risk factors for cardiovascular disease is a diet rich in unhealthy fats and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which is characterised by the sorts of food that are typically accessible in food desert areas.
As a result of the higher incidence of obesity in food desert regions, even children and adolescents living in those areas are at increased risk for cardiovascular disease (both now and when they reach maturity), according to the American Heart Association.
As part of the “Let’s Move” campaign to address childhood obesity, First Lady Michelle Obama has set a goal of eliminating food deserts by 2017, with a $400 million government investment centered on granting tax benefits to supermarkets that establish in low-income neighborhoods as a part of the program.
Chicago– In food deserts, more than 500,000 persons (most of whom are African-American) live, and an additional 400,000 live in communities where there are a disproportionate number of fast food businesses and no grocery stores nearby.
Along with offering fresh and organic fruits and vegetables, bulk whole grains and beans, and soy-based meat substitutes, some of these stores (such as Fresh Family Foods, located on the city’s South Side) also provide cooking and nutrition classes to educate the public about making nutritious food choices.
- Because fewer fast food restaurants were available, there was a greater demand for more and better food options.
- So far, these measures have been successful in bringing the first new grocery to South L.A.
- New York City is a city that has a lot of things to offer.
- Increased rents and shrinking profit margins have caused supermarkets throughout New York City to close in recent years.
- Since 2008, the city has been operating its Green Carts initiative, which has been distributing inexpensive fresh fruits and vegetables to impoverished communities while also offering employment opportunities for vendor participants.
- What can I do if I live in an area where there is no access to food?
- To begin, it’s a good idea to talk about alternative choices, such as producing your own food or collaborating with local businesses to provide healthy, vegan meals.
You can also contact out to others who have worked on this subject if you want to learn more.
The Economic Research Service of the United States Department of Agriculture published a report in 2009 titled Bryan provided this information on August 25, 2017.
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“Measuring food deserts in New York City’s low-income communities.” Page 697 to 700 in Health Place, March 2011. Vol. 17(2), page 697 to 700. Jeff. “Can other cities follow New York’s lead in introducing vegetable carts into food deserts?” The New York Times published an article on March 11, 2010.
How can cities end food deserts? Here are 4 solutions that worked
People all throughout Louisville are dreaming of innovative methods to provide nutritious food to the communities that really need it. Might the University of Louisville establish a research grocery store where students could evaluate business techniques while also providing a convenient shopping option for residents? Would it be beneficial if high school students taught elders how to place grocery orders for delivery? Is it really necessary to recreate the wheel? Grocery businesses have been withdrawing out of low-income neighborhoods around the country for several years.
The most recent: Would you consider shopping at a mobile food store?
In 30 seconds or less: What you need to know about Louisville’s food deserts is as follows: According to writer Bailey Loosemore, who was working on a documentary about food access in Louisville, there are various alternatives that have been proved successful in other cities.
Virtual Supermarket Program | BALTIMORE
Baltimore City’s health department has run a virtual grocery program since 2010. Residents may purchase goods online and pick them up in a variety of sites, including libraries, apartment complexes, and senior centers, since 2010. It is free to use the service, and residents may pay for their orders with Electronic Benefit Transfer cards, which were originally known as food stamps. For the purpose of filling orders, the health department collaborates with a local store operator, and community members are trained to manage the locations.
Related: How Louisville’s six grocery delivery firms compare to one another
Dollar Store Restrictions| TULSA
Earlier this year, the Oklahoma City Council enacted an ordinance restricting the expansion of new dollar shops in north Tulsa, a largely African-American neighborhood with limited access to nutritious food alternatives. The majority of dollar stores do not have a wide variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, or meats. A nonprofit organization that promotes citizen empowerment, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, contends that corporations such as Family Dollar and Dollar Tree overwhelm towns, making it hard for food shops to establish a foothold in the area.
A new grocery shop, which opened its doors last year, has already attracted attention to the region.
Following community objections, the city of Louisville has ruled that Family Dollar stores cannot sell alcohol.
The ReFresh Project | NEW ORLEANS
ReFresh Project is a communal food center that opened its doors in an abandoned grocery store in 2014 to serve the local community. The Whole Foods Market, which was established as a prototype “urban format” shop as part of the $20 million project, serves as its focal point. In addition to cooking classes, the center offers programs that educate people how to cultivate their own vegetables and work in a professional kitchen setting.
It also serves as the location of the Boys Town children and families center as well as many offices for food-related organizations. More information on the project may be found here.
Healthy Food Financing| PENNSYLVANIA
- A statewide Fresh Food Financing Initiative was developed in Pennsylvania in 2004 to assist fresh food initiatives in low-income areas. This initiative utilized public and private funds to support fresh food projects. Grant funding from the state was used to kickstart the initiative, which was then leveraged by a financial institution into an extra $145 million in additional investments that may be provided to projects in the form of grants or loans. It received 206 submissions and awarded finance for 88 projects by 2009, making it the most successful effort to date. After that, three federal agencies created a Healthy Food Financing Initiative that was patterned after the Pennsylvania initiative. Over 320 million dollars has been distributed to communities across the country by federal authorities since 2011. More information on the effort may be found here. More coverage may be seen here. We’re sorry, but we’re closed today: When food stores close, it has a negative impact on everyone. Louisville is experiencing a fresh food shortage. Is it possible to repair it? How a low-income area in Louisville transformed into a fresh food haven The price of eggs at Kroger is determined by your geographic location. Louisville’s food deserts include the following: What impact it has on the general population The grocery shop is only two miles away from Michele Dutcher’s apartment in the heart of downtown Louisville, but she must take two buses to get there. Nikki Boliaux and Matt Stone of the Louisville Courier Journal contributed to this article. Bloosemore can be reached at 502-582-4646, [email protected], or on Twitter at @bloosemore. Subscribing to the Courier-Journal today at courier-journal.com/baileyl will help to ensure that good local journalism continues.
Food deserts: Definition, effects, and solutions
Food deserts are areas in which individuals have limited access to nutritious and inexpensive food due to geographical limitations. This might be due to a lack of financial resources or the need to go further to locate nutritious meal alternatives. People who live in food deserts may be at increased risk for diet-related illnesses such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease because they lack access to nutritious foods. Multiple government agencies are currently sponsoring efforts to prevent regions from becoming food deserts as well as to enhance people’s access to food in areas that have already been declared food deserts by the USDA.
Areas where individuals have limited access to a range of nutritious foods are referred to as food deserts.
The USDA defines a food desert as an area where the poverty rate is greater than or equal to 20 percent, or where the median family income does not exceed 80 percent of the median family income in urban areas, or 80 percent of the statewide median family income in nonurban areas, as defined by the federal government.
In metropolitan areas, at least 500 persons, or 33 percent of the population, must reside more than one mile from the nearest big food store in order for the requirement to be met.
Between 2000 and 2006, the USDA identified approximately 6,500 food deserts.
11.5 million of these persons have poor incomes, making about a quarter of the total.
- Populations that are either extremely huge or extremely sparse
- Low income
- Significant levels of unemployment
- Insufficient access to transportation
- A small number of food shops that provide fresh produce at a reasonable price
The survey also points out that rural areas in the Western, Midwest, and Southern regions of the United States are far more likely than rural areas in the Northeast to be classified as food deserts. This may be due to the fact that rural regions in the Northeast tend to be closer to metropolitan areas where food shops may be found. According to the analysis, rural regions with expanding people may be at a lesser risk of becoming food deserts in the near future. Experts have not yet achieved a consensus on the features of the populations who live in food deserts, which is a significant problem.
Researchers have found that some low-income districts have a higher number of food stores and that they reside closer to these stores than persons from wealthier backgrounds, according to the analysis.
It is the absence of mobility in rural regions that is the most important predictor of food insecurity.
Furthermore, because experts have not established a consensus on the features of communities impacted by food deserts, additional study is required.
Such analyses may aid policymakers in identifying places that are at danger of becoming food deserts, allowing them to put in place measures to improve access to nutritious foods. Maintaining a nutritious diet entails the following steps:
- Consuming a diverse range of foods from all dietary categories while keeping calorie consumption under control, minimizing intake of saturated and trans fatty acids, added sweets, and excess salt is recommended.
Foods that are considered healthy by the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans include the following ingredients:
- Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015–2020 recommend that a healthy diet contain the following foods:
- Seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes, nuts and seeds, and soy products are all good choices.
It is possible that people who live in food deserts have restricted access to supermarkets and other food shops that sell nutritious and reasonably priced items. Healthful meals are sometimes available in convenience stores and tiny grocery stores; nevertheless, they are frequently out of reach for persons on a fixed budget. People who live in food deserts may consequently be more reliant on food merchants or fast food restaurants that offer a more cheap but limited choice of items to supplement their diet.
As a result, diet-related diseases such as high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease might occur more frequently.
- Obesity is on the rise, as is the prevalence of diabetes, as are other weight-related diseases, particularly in youngsters.
Numerous food deserts also have limited or costly access to health-care resources. In turn, this has a detrimental impact on the health of the individuals who live in these neighborhoods. People use a variety of phrases to express the availability of food to a community. Other instances are discussed in greater detail in the sections that follow.
Food deserts are frequently accompanied by inadequate and/or costly health-care services. People who live in these places suffer from poor health outcomes as a result of this. Access to food is described by a variety of phrases in different contexts. Several further instances are provided in the sections following.
A food mirage is a term used to describe a situation in which individuals live in close proximity to grocery shops that provide a range of nutritious foods but are unable to buy such goods. As a result, people must go further to acquire nutritious foods that are also within their financial means.
Food insecurity is defined as having restricted or insecure access to food as a result of a lack of financial resources. Families and individuals with limited financial resources may find it difficult to buy nutritious diets. In the United States, policymakers are actively seeking ways to enhance access to nutritious meals in food deserts around the country. The Community Food Programs Competitive Grant Program provides funding for long-term food projects that assist low-income communities in gaining access to nutritious and culturally appropriate diets and lifestyles.
Among the concerns that the Community Food Projects hope to solve are the following:
- Increasing the availability of nutritious, locally sourced meals by implementing the following strategies:
- Affordably priced grocery stores and marketplaces, as well as backyard and community gardens, as well as food aid programs
Providing information and training on food production, preparation, and nutrition in order to promote healthy eating habits the process of enrolling qualified citizens in government feeding programs access to local farmers markets is being expanded. fostering safe and equitable working conditions for agricultural workers promoting environmentally friendly farming methods that safeguard air, water, soil, and wildlife habitats assisting entrepreneurs in the food industry recognizing and appreciating the diversity of culinary cultures enlisting the participation of citizens in the design of the food system allowing residents to have a role in food-related choices that are made by government officials The term “food desert” refers to a region where people lack access to nutritious foods.
They are a huge problem that affects millions of individuals in the United States and throughout the world.
Community Food Projects are attempting to enhance food systems in areas that are considered food deserts.