Food insecurity exists in low income communities and brings challenges to healthy food access.
Everyone should have access to fresh, healthy local food and be food secure. For many of us, purchasing local fruits and vegetables is not an issue of access but of choice – do I want bananas or berries? Do I want salad greens or broccoli? A household is food secure when they have access to affordable, healthy food. But, there are communities across Michigan who have inadequate access to healthy food and limited access to a grocery store due to the distance to the store, lack of a vehicle and lack of public transportation.
When you lack access to good food, it is much more challenging to serve your family nutritious meals and be healthy. When you have limited access to healthy food options in your neighborhood and community, you are more likely to be at risk for diet related diseases. This type of area where healthy affordable food is difficult to obtain is referred to as a food desert. These deserts exist in rural and urban areas and are more prevalent in low-socioeconomic minority communities.
In Macomb County, there are a few small food desert areas as defined by United States Department of Agriculture as a low-income census tract with a large number of residents having low access to a supermarket or large grocery store. These areas have housing units with no vehicle and over a mile to a full service grocery store.
The challenges of finding solutions to feed the hungry and food insecure are many. Expanding farmers markets, establishing community gardens, increasing the number of farmers markets accepting the Bridge Card and WIC, engaging faith based groups to promote healthy eating and establishing mobile food programs are just a few examples of successful community programs that can help provide food to those in need.