April 10th, 2015
For many of us, good nutrition is as close as our neighborhood supermarket, grocery store or farmer’s market. But for 23.5 million Americans, affordable healthy food is much harder to come by. These areas of the country have become known as “food deserts”. According to the US Department of Agriculture, food deserts are nutritional wastelands, often set in inner city neighborhoods or rural areas without easy access to fresh whole foods or good nutrition. These communities are classified as food deserts based on US Census data, but typically, they are found in low income or disadvantaged neighborhoods where the main sources of nutrition come from fast food restaurants and convenience stores because grocery stores are more than a mile away. (10 miles away in rural areas.)
A diet wrought with problems. Americans living in these nutritional wastelands tend to eat foods that are more processed, higher in fat and sugar, and often filled with artificial ingredients. It’s not uncommon for kids from these areas to be unfamiliar with fresh fruits or vegetables. Recent reports from the FDA reveal that people living in these communities also experience a greater number of health problems related to nutritionally poor diets such as higher rates of obesity, diabetes and heart disease.*
Changing the food landscape. We can all make contributions toward the elimination of food deserts. Since 2010, it has been a key initiative for First Lady Michelle Obama through her Let’s Move Program. The program illustrates how growing your own food is a simple and inexpensive way for those in food deserts to gain access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Planting seeds in pots on a patio or at a community garden is a cost-effective way to keep fresh produce coming through multiple seasons.
We believe everyone deserves access to good nutrition. For more than a decade Pacific Foods has partnered with the Oregon Food Bank to provide healthy foods to those in need. We’re currently working with Portland Public Schools to send kids on the assisted lunch program home with nutritious foods during school breaks. And we’re making healthy foods affordable through our Community Store and My Street Grocery, a mobile pop-up grocery trolley supported by our friends at Whole Foods Market. Nourishment is at the heart of everything we do at Pacific, and sharing good food is our favorite way to Nourish Every Body. What’s yours?
23.5 million Americans live in parts of the country vapid of fresh fruit, vegetables and other healthful foods.- American Nutrition Association