Food Deserts: The Struggle to Reach a Balanced Diet

The importance of healthy eating as an ingredient to a long and fruitful life cannot be overstated. A balanced diet, rich in the major food groups is vital for growing children as well as adults. However for many in our country, access to sustainable and nutritional food is a struggle.

The United States Government defines a food desert as “a low income census tract where a substantial number or share of residents has low access to a supermarket or large grocery store.” Food deserts deprive their residents of the ability to purchase fresh, healthful foods at a reasonable price. Often, the two choices for food purchases in a food desert are the corner store, which sells processed and over-priced food, or a fast-food restaurant, which although may be lower in cost, does not meet nutritional standards.

For residents of a food desert, the struggle is real. Most food deserts are located in lower economic areas. In many instances, residents may not own a car, so in order to get to a grocery store to purchase nutritious food, it becomes an issue of time and logistics. The time needed to take bus or train to a grocery store that is miles away, coupled with the challenge to transport the food home once it is purchased.

Thankfully, some solutions to this issue are developing in cities across the country. Mobile produce and new markets have popped up in many food deserts. Peaches & Greens, a mobile produce truck in Detroit delivers fruits and vegetables to needed areas. And the Salvation Army, in partnership with the Maryland Food Bank, has just opened a full-service grocery store in Baltimore, called DMG (Doing the Most Good) Foods focused on serving the underserved with the hopes of building more stores throughout the United States. Education must play a vital role in addressing this issue as well. As students are presented with the importance of eating a balanced diet, as a way to ensure health and ward off obesity, they will recognize and understand the need for affordable, and nutritional food for everyone, regardless of neighborhood or economic status.  We are a country rich in many things; access to fresh and nourishing food for all should not be an unsurmountable challenge.

Megan Cucinotta Administrative and Service Coordinator CustomED