What are Food Deserts?
Food deserts are defined as regions where people have limited access to healthful and affordable food due to low income or having to travel farther to find healthy and/or affordable food options.
"The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) define a food desert as an area that has either a poverty rate greater than or equal to 20% or a median family income not exceeding 80% of the median family income in urban areas, or 80% of the statewide median family income in nonurban areas.
In order to qualify as a food desert, an area must also meet certain other criteria. In urban areas, at least 500 people or 33% of the population must live more than 1 mile from the nearest large grocery store. In rural areas, at least 500 people or 33% of the population must live more than 10 miles from the nearest large grocery store.
The USDA identified around 6,500 food deserts between 2000 and 2006. Experts estimate that around 23.5 million people in the U.S. live in low income areas that are farther than 1 mile to the nearest large grocery store. Of these people, 11.5 million have low incomes."
Areas that are more likely to become food deserts are those with very large or sparse populations, low income and/or high unemployment rates, and limited access to transportation and retailers that provide healthy and/or affordable food.
There is a great correlation between food deserts and BIPOC communities, especially Native American Reservations.
The most alarming fact about food deserts are those of the health impacts they have on the communities affected, where research shows higher levels of cardiovascular and heart issues, high blood pressure, obesity, and prevalence of diabetes.
Although some measures are being taken to diminish the presence of food deserts in the United States, there is still much to be done.