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USDA Defines Food Deserts
Food deserts are defined as parts of the country vapid of fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthful whole foods, usually found in impoverished areas. This is largely due to a lack of grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and healthy food providers.
This has become a big problem because while food deserts are often short on whole food providers, especially fresh fruits and vegetables, instead, they are heavy on local quickie marts that provide a wealth of processed, sugar, and fat laden foods that are known contributors to our nation’s obesity epidemic. The food desert problem has in fact become such an issue that the USDA has outlined a map of our nation’s food deserts, which I saw on Mother Nature Network.
The Food Desert Locator is a part of the First Lady’s Let’s Move initiative to end childhood obesity.
According to the USDA: Part of the First Lady's Let's Move! initiative, the proposed Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI) will expand the availability of nutritious food to food deserts—low-income communities without ready access to healthy and affordable food—by developing and equipping grocery stores, small retailers, corner stores, and farmers markets with fresh and healthy food.
The USDA defines what's considered a food desert and which areas will be helped by this initiative: To qualify as a “low-access community,” at least 500 people and/or at least 33 percent of the census tract's population must reside more than one mile from a supermarket or large grocery store (for rural census tracts, the distance is more than 10 miles).
Mari Gallagher, noted author and expert of Food Deserts will be speaking at an ANA presentation in Spring 2011.
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