Thursday, December 10, 2015

Lack Of Grocery Stores Causes Food Deserts by Ira Riklis

Grocery stores are retail stores that sell food in bulk. As part of the healthy eating initiatives groups of major food retailers in 2011 promised to open and expand grocery stores to increase access to fresh foods.

Food stores that sell fresh fruits, vegetables and meat, are reducing, and others are closing, creating
Assortment of different vegetables
food deserts. In St. Louis Schnucks, a supermarket that was supplying food and groceries closed. The officials said they were losing money on the store. Residents in the area say this has affected them a lot since the closest supermarket is miles away and the food they get can't even last them a month.
According to the U.S Department of Agriculture, controlled access to super centers, supermarkets, and grocery stores, or other sources of affordable and healthy food may make it difficult for some Americans to have a healthy diet.

The Food Desert Inventory

The USDA came up with a national food desert inventory that considers a variety of factors that measure food store access for individuals and neighborhoods. These Measures constitute:
  1. How accessible are sources of healthy food, in relation to the distance and the number of stores in a given resident. Low access can be can be defined as "being far from a supermarket or large grocery store".
  2. How does a family or individual resources affect food accessibility, including household income?
  3. What resources in the neighborhood can affect access, including average income or access to public transport? The Department of Treasury defines a low-income neighborhood as an area where the tract's poverty rate is 20% or greater.
Access to groceries and food stores has also reduced in rural areas. For example in Ohio some of the challenges of accessing healthy foods are;
  1. Physical barriers-the distance from where residents live to the grocery stores is miles away
  2. Economic barriers - the residents have low income thus they are not able to buy fresh foods and vegetables.
  3. Health barriers- most of the people living in the rural areas face nutritional challenges.

 Health Problems Related To Food Accessibility

According to the American nutrition association lack of access to health food contributes to health problems such as diabetes and obesity. Proximity to a supermarket with groceries can make a big difference in what people eat.

Small grocers and corner stores carry an adequate supply of healthy, nutritiously dense foods. However large chain supermarkets have much greater leverage and economies of scale to bring a wider variety of products and at cheaper prices. Access to nutritious food is scarce according to United States Department of Agriculture , economic research service. Further, to improve healthy food access, in the county, for example, focus is on developing larger supermarkets throughout the county. This reduces the distance residents travel to get a supermarket.

In Cleveland, residents travel almost five times further to reach a grocer or a supermarket than a fast-food joint. As a result, low-income and inner-city residents are at risk of diet-related health challenges or malnutrition.

Improving Food Access

Some alternatives for improving food access are;
Three Apples
  • Shifting consumer demands through nutritional education.
  • Encouraging corner stores to carry a mix of healthier foods.
  • Farmers' markets or other local food distribution efforts can be located in food desert areas.
  • More farmer markets to be located in urban neighborhoods.
Access to fresh food is a key mission of the partnership for a healthier America which promotes good nutrition and exercise to reduce obesity.