America’s wealthiest people are eating better, while its poorest are eating worse, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine. The nutritional disparities between America’s rich and poor have doubled from 2000 to 2010.
Access to high quality food for low-income families remains a serious issue in our country and in our local area. More than 23 million people in America live in food deserts, places with too few choices for affordable, healthy food and oversaturated with unhealthy food outlets. People who live in or near food deserts tend to be poorer and have fewer healthy food options. They rely on fast food restaurants and convenience stores for their food due to an absence of grocery stores in their localities. These convenience stores and fast food restaurants don’t typically sell the variety of foods needed for a healthy diet such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fresh dairy, and lean meat products. Though people living in food deserts can get enough calories for the day, they are mostly from unhealthy foods. As a result, America’s food problem has shifted from hunger to obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. More than one third of American adults are obese, more than 78 million people.
Though a lot of work needs to be done to close this widening food gap, communities are responding with community gardens, food banks, and farmers markets. Farmer Frog is a not-for-profit that supports local communities by growing food gardens and providing education programs within neighborhoods throughout Puget Sound. We involve kids, families, and neighbors in learning how to grow food, better their diets, and improve their communities.
Learn more about food deserts through the inspiring work of Ron Finley, an activist in LA doing great work in underserved communities.
Bushra Bajwa is a freelance writer in Issaquah, Washington. She enjoys running, horseback riding, and spending time with her two children and husband.