Monday, March 18, 2013

Do you live in a food desert?

​Just what is a food desert?

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), it is an area with limited access to supermarkets, grocery stores, small retailers, or other outlets where fresh, healthy, and affordable food can be purchased. They are a major public health concern, as overabundance of processed food and lack of fresh fruit, vegetables, and meats make it much harder for these communities to choose a healthy diet.

The USDA is out with a new interactive map of food deserts across the country, and Washington has its fair share. Each green spot on the map represents a food desert. A scalable map for denser communities can be found here.

House Democrats are already doing their part to help eliminate these food deserts and ensure Washingtonians have the option to lead healthy lifestyles.
House Bill 1276, sponsored by Rep. Chris Reykdal, would create a state pilot program for farm engagement projects in our K-12 system. The bill – which passed the House on a bipartisan 89-8 vote – was inspired by Olympia’s GRuB Program, which for years has been re-engaging underperforming students by allowing them to earn credit by learning and participating in local food system development.

Not only will these pilot projects help communities across the state create more local, fresh and sustainable food choices, they will also help reduce high-school dropout rates among at-risk youth. That’s what we call a win-win.

Read this story in Spanish.