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Health Isn’t only for the Rich: Getting Underserved Communities Better Access To Fresh Food

Health Isn’t only for the Rich: Getting Underserved Communities Better Access To Fresh Food

Although dieticians and physicians insist that a diet full of fresh, local, organic, foods is the answer to many common health problems (not to mention the smart alternative to over-processed, pesticide-ridden conventional foods) accessibility has proven to be a huge roadblock for the people that are most in need of a fresher diet.

In his 2011 budget proposal, President Barack Obama is attempting to address the urgent need for bringing healthy food options to underserved communities by calling for more than $400 million in investments in new and expanded supermarkets, farmers markets and other food stores.

With the exception of CSA’s, most people interested in buying locally grown organic produce and other foods have found that price tags are often significantly higher, not to mention that if you live in the middle of an urban metropolis, they can be hard to find.

According to a recent press release, the public‐private grant and loan program would dramatically reduce the roughly 23 million Americans who have limited access to full‐service supermarkets and create tens of thousands of retail and construction jobs in low income communities.

The $400 million investment, split among the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Health and Human Service and U.S. Department of the Treasury, includes $250 million in New Market Tax Credit allocations to spur private investment in underserved communities.

So much of the way people eat, purchase, and think about food is established when they are young. Those without access to fresh foods at reasonable prices are more likely to grow up detached from the food production process, and without an appreciation for farmers or sustainable agricultural practices.

Re-educating people about the significance of fresh foods and their connection to good health will go a long way in fighting dietary illnesses that are beginning to take hold in younger generations of Americans; but it must be coupled with access to fresh food retailers so that people can put their new knowledge into action.

“It’s hard to make healthy food choices until you have nearby healthy food options,” said Judith Bell, President of PolicyLink, a national research and action institute that has been working with the White House, the Senate, and the House to create a national‐scale version of the successful Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative.”It is not merely coincidence that low‐income communities of color with poor access to healthy foods are also getting hit worst by the obesity and diabetes crises. The president’s budget signals a strong commitment to bringing healthy food – and good, long‐term jobs – to communities that have been without either for far too long.”

Since the Pennsylvania program began in 2004, the state has invested $30 million which has supported $165 million in total project investment. These 78 projects have provided more than 400,000 Pennsylvanians with healthier food choices in their communities and have created or preserved 4,860 jobs and 1.5 million square feet of food retail space.

(For more information on the Pennsylvania and national efforts, please click HERE).

Related Reading:

Underfunded School Lunch Programs Create Unhealthy Kids

Pesticides Are Everywhere: New iPhone App Helps You Avoid Them

10 Ways Food Can Bring Out the Best in Your Genes

Related Petitions:

Take GM Corn off the Shelves!

Protect Your Access to Food and Supplements – Stop the Food Safety Bill in the Senate!

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42 comments

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4:07PM PST on Feb 18, 2010

It is about time the fat cat supermarkets with their fat profits and chemically laced foods had some competition and that can only come from a grass roots movement so whilst the above named policy will improve health it will also have hopefully the above knock on effect.

7:40AM PST on Feb 15, 2010

markets are consumer driven. If enough people lobbied their supermarkets, things would change.

4:01AM PST on Feb 10, 2010

When President Obama first started his presidential campaign, a financial-melt-down hadn't appeared on the horizon. It was his mis-fortune that his Presidency co-incided with the s--t hitting the fan. Think of all the positive changes he could have made had the financial cupboard not been bare.

3:03AM PST on Feb 8, 2010

belachelijk, waarom altijd alleen de rijken, die hebben geld genoeg.
juist de arme mensen hebben hier veel meer recht op wanneer is er nu eindelijk eens gerechtigheid in deze harde wereld, iedereen gelijk!

3:24PM PST on Feb 7, 2010

thank you

12:36PM PST on Feb 7, 2010

Thanks for the info.

11:59AM PST on Feb 7, 2010

Good food should be accessable to everyone and at a cost that everyone should be able to afford. Thanx for the great article!

10:40AM PST on Feb 7, 2010

Absolutely, better and healthier food belongs to everyone!

8:01AM PST on Feb 7, 2010

In the long run this will pay off as poor people have fewer health problems and cost taxpayers less. Also they will be more likely to get the education they need to find good jobs or start businesses and escape poverty.

9:15AM PST on Feb 6, 2010

Greeat article Beth, lots of info. to intake!

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