Recent Articles About Food Deserts

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

These days, Beatrice Evans finds herself talking to her neighbors on the bus more than usual while she’s commuting to her part-time job at a telemarketing firm. She doesn’t just make conversation with other passengers; Evans has an agenda. She thinks her fellow commuters should know about a city program that essentially gives low-income folks like her free produce at farmers’ markets.
Read more

Most celebrity chefs do more than appear on TV and hawk cookbooks and frying pans. To name but a few on a very long list: Tom Colicchio uses his Top Chef fame to bring awareness to healthy school lunches; Marcus Samulesson works with global humanitarian relief organization UNICEF; MilkBar’s Christina Tosi helps create jobs for recent immigrants; and D.C.’s Jose Andres has a foundation to fight food insecurity. In other words, a lot of the chefs you’ve heard of are probably working to change the food system in some important way. Read more

Elaine Brown is no stranger to radical ideas. The 72-year-old former chairwoman of the Black Panther Party has long advocated on behalf of prisoners. Now she is determined to transform a once-blighted vacant lot in West Oakland, California into a thriving urban farm business that employs former offenders. And the produce they cultivate is destined for a fine dining restaurant in a city fast gaining a reputation as an eating destination. Read more

In the wake of the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, after the death of Michael Brown, the Baltimore uprising after the death of Freddie Gray, and the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement, much has been written about the nature of poverty and violence in American cities. But one aspect that is chronically underreported is the lack of access to healthy foods in many of those same communities. Indeed, the reliance on a highly processed food supply is causing disease, suffering, and eventual death, especially to those in the poorest of neighborhoods. Read more

I moved to California from El Salvador with my mother when I was two years old. Throughout most of my childhood, we lived in Huntington Park, a mostly-Latino, blue-collar suburb South of Los Angeles.

Needless to say, I was far from gluten-free bread, kale chips, and other fad foods of Hollywood. There were few grocery stores nearby and, although we were only four blocks away from a Mexican market with great produce, I rarely saw a farmers’ market. Instead, there were lots of convenience stores filled with pre-packaged, processed foods, fast food restaurants, and small liquor stores with overpriced, overripe produce. Read more