Recent Articles About Food Deserts

Low-income patients at Los Angeles’ Eisner Pediatric and Family Medical Center who are struggling with health conditions like obesity and hypertension may be surprised this year when their doctors hand them “prescriptions” for free fruits and vegetables. The prescriptions are part of Wholesome Wave’s national efforts to give more people access to fresh and whole foods, and the expansion to LA was made possible through $1.2 million in grants from Target. Read more

Farm teams are a fixture of the baseball world. But perhaps only in Fresno, California, home of the minor league team the Fresno Grizzlies, has the notion of a farm team been taken so literally.

At the Grizzlies’ Chukchansi Park downtown, the churros, cotton candy, and other junk food that define America’s pastime have been joined by Farm Grown Fridays, a farmers’ market set up at Friday home games that includes a roving “Mr. Pistachio” handing out locally grown nuts while posing for selfies. Read more

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School is letting out, and the back parking lot of Laurel Elementary School in East Oakland bustles with activity. As children stream out of the building, many join their parents and caregivers in line at the bi-monthly mobile food pantry run by the Alameda County Community Food Bank. Together, the children and adults select apples, oranges, and onions from the produce-only pantry.

Sherrie Lowe, who has two children and a grandchild at Laurel, has been using mobile pantries at the school for three or four years now. For her, the mobile pantry is all about convenience. “You pick up your kids, you pick up your fruit, you pick up your vegetables all at one stop,” she says amidst the lively activity of the pantry line. Read more

Before Flint, Michigan became synonymous with poisoned water, residents had another major health concern: limited access to healthy foods. Residents were shocked in the spring of 2015 when two of Flint’s major east side grocery stores, part of the Meijer and Kroger chains, closed their doors. The city had already lost a Kroger several months earlier on the northwest side of town.

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In the late 1990s, Brahm Ahmadi worked on environmental justice campaigns to shut down polluting factories in Oakland’s low-income communities. He lived in West Oakland, a predominately African-American neighborhood, where his work sometimes kept him in his own backyard. As a young organizer, a big part of his job was community engagement. Amidst the ongoing dialogue, Ahmadi repeatedly encountered complaints about the lack of access to a decent grocery store. What he was hearing—from one resident after another—was that they were tired of having to travel to stock up on basic foods.

For awhile, we’d just say, ‘thanks you for input,’ then we’d park it,” says Ahmadi. “But it kept coming up. After awhile I realized it wasn’t just a tangent.” Read more

There are two options for buying groceries near Cathy’s home in West Oakland, California: a tiny and sometimes expensive co-op and a 99 cent store. Although she loves the co-op, they’re only open until 8 p.m. during the week and 4 p.m. on weekends. The 99 cent store is open until 9 p.m., but its produce and dairy offerings are limited and often teeter on the edge of their expiration dates. Read more

Dennis Lane has owned a 7-Eleven franchise in Quincy, Massachusetts for 42 years. He says many of his customers use Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP or food stamps) benefits to buy staple foods.

“I sell 150 gallons of milk a day in my neighborhood,” he said. “A lot of those folks use SNAP.”

Soon, Lane’s store’s SNAP eligibility could be in question due to a recently proposed rule by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that would require retailers to stock an expanded list of foods to remain eligible for participation in the food assistance program. The rule would also eliminate from the SNAP program retailers with 15 percent or more of their store sales from hot, prepared food. Read more

President Obama’s visit to Flint, Michigan, last week brought renewed focus to the impacts of environmental racism.

Far too many minority families live in toxic and impoverished environments. They live next to congested interstate highways, emissions spewing power plants, and smog pumping refineries. Flint’s crisis is the result of negligence by city and state officials, but it also reflects a larger reality about what it means to grow up poor in America.

Like many cities, Flint is also a wasteland for affordable sources of nutrition, making it a classic food desert. Read more