Who has Access to Healthy Food Options?

Today's post is authored by MedEq's Co-Treasurer, Sabrina Pakula.

A common correlation we observe today is that poorer areas lack grocery stores that provide healthy, fresh produce to their consumers because of the low family incomes within the area. Due to the lack of promise, conglomerate food retailers deem it not profitable or in the interest of the company to invest in an area and bring dearly needed food to people. They also reason that their clientele will avoid purchasing fresh produce because it is more expensive than less healthier options. For decades now, the availability of fresh produce was specific to areas of color, and policies are just now being introduced to fairly locate food sources. The devastating truth is that this kind of information is either blurred through journals and unaccepted or viewed as a political strategy. As noted, “inequitable access to healthy food is a major contributor to health disparities” and if addressed can solve an assortment of problems such as obesity. 

In 2009, a study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that 23.5 million low-income citizens lack access to a supermarket within a mile of their homes, this being half as many as wealthy tracts. For those low income people who do have access, the produce quality was found to be extremely low, especially in the Detroit area. In contrast, low-income, color areas have 30% more convenience stores than those of white affluent areas. These stores normally are not stocked with any healthy, nutritious foods, furthering the obesity issues due to the high amounts of junk food sold. To continue, those that have not given up and desire to travel to areas with access to healthy foods, normally lack the transportation means to due so since most busses don't travel between the wealthy and lacking zip codes. Imagine yourself not being able to find yourself a fresh apple to eat or put together a fresh salad?

However, some action has been taken to resolve this issue. In 2011, President Obama called for a $400 million budget to establish a ,“Healthy Food Financing Initiative” which became a key component of the First Lady’s, “Move” campaign to reduce obesity in children. With these kinds of health disparities, it is important for the more fortunate like ourselves to help make a difference by joining organizations like this one that is dedicated to not only spreading awareness of issues but working to eliminate them.