Are most simply defined as lack of access to healthy foods, or as areas that combine low income with low access. Food deserts matter because people are more susceptible to the rising tide of chronic conditions and poor health without access to healthy foods like fresh fruit, vegetables and whole grains.
SLHI had a bit of an eye-opener recently when we checked the USDA’s food desert locator and discovered that more than 10,000 people live in food deserts within 3-5 miles of our offices.
SLHI’s partnerships and investments in farmers markets, community gardens, and policy changes that improve access to healthy foods will continue. But comprehensive involvement with others – e.g. the finance and business communities – is also necessary to address the issue. What would persuade a bank or a grocery chain to finance and open a store in an area with a low economic profile? How does an area labeled as unattractive to business leverage its assets and demonstrate its interest, potential and viability to support an outlet for healthy food? Community advocates need to polish this strength-based argument and take it directly to the investors.