TheBUZZ: Limited access to healthy foods puts people at risk for disease?
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Lower income populations often live in areas with limited access to fruits, vegetables, and other healthy foods which puts them at risk for many diet-related diseases.
WHAT WE KNOW
The 2009 report Access to Affordable and Nutritious Food: Measuring and Understanding Food Deserts and Their Consequences, describes characteristics of people and households residing in areas with limited access to healthy and affordable food, also known as food deserts.* Food deserts are geographic areas where residents’ access to affordable, healthy food options (especially fresh fruits and vegetables) is restricted or nonexistent due to the absence of grocery stores within a convenient traveling distance.
While unhealthy eating may be economically cheaper in the short-term, the consequences of long-term constrained access to healthy foods is one of the main reasons ethnic minority and low-income populations suffer from statistically higher rates of obesity, type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other diet-related conditions than the general population.
The answer? Take the food to them! Recently a surge in mobile produce markets has been sweeping the nation to promote a well-nourished America! Part of the Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Initiative, the proposed Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI), will expand the availability of nutritious food to these food deserts.
HOW DO WE KNOW THIS?
Last year, Maine’s Jordan Farm started the Mobile Farm Stand that travels to senior housing sites in South Portland and to Portland and Scarborough businesses. Visit Website
In Virginia, the Farm to Family truck makes healthy local food available to people in central Virginia. Using a converted diesel school bus, they provide urban communities with fresh, locally grown produce and other homemade products. Visit Website
The Farm Fresh Mobile Market provides high-quality, reasonably priced, fresh fruits and vegetables to residents at accessible locations in inner-city Syracuse. Visit Website
In Chicago, Fresh Moves is working hard to bring the Lawndale community fresh, delicious, nutritious produce and educating the public about how fun it can be to eat healthily. Visit Website
California Fresh Works is a partnership loan fund created to increase access to healthy food in communities, spur economic development, and inspire innovation in healthy food choices. Visit Website
If you recognize that you are living in a food desert …
- Promote healthy foods (e.g. grow your own food, work with local retailers)
- Bring your ideas/concerns to policy makers (e.g. city council members, state legislators)
- Locate mobile food trucks that deliver near you
- Coordinate with your neighbors, families, and friends to make longer distance grocery trips
- Remember that all forms of fruits and vegetables—fresh, frozen, canned, dried & 100% juice—are just as nutritious for you and count towards your daily recommendation
If you need food assistance …
On a fixed budget? Fruits and veggies are affordable!
*Ver Ploeg, M., V. Breneman, T. Farrigan, et al. “Access to Affordable and Nutritious Food: Measuring and Understanding Food Deserts and Their Consequences.” United States Department of Agriculture
, last modified June 25, 2009, accessed September 14, 2011, http://www.ers.usda.gov/Publications/AP/AP036/