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  • ALEX KAGIANARIS

HOW DO WE ELIMINATE FOOD DESERTS


Alex Kagianaris - How do we get to a more equitable and sustainable food system? We are going to have to do that very intentionally because the markets are not going to do that on their own. Through projects and innovations like creating crops that regenerate the soil and farmer's markets that supply the poorer, underdeveloped urban areas, we can create a different kind of future!

Limited access to healthy food choices can lead to poor diets and higher levels of obesity and other diet-related diseases. In addition, limited access to affordable food choices can lead to higher levels of food insecurity, increasing the number of low- and moderate-income families without access to enough food to sustain a healthy, active life. There is a growing, though incomplete, body of research that finds an association between food insecurity and obesity, suggesting that hunger and obesity may be two sides of the same coin.

So what can we do to increase the accessibility of healthy food in food deserts. Michelle Obama laid out an action that makes the following recommendations, to be implemented as soon as possible:

Recommendation 4.1: Launch a multi-year, multi-agency Healthy Food Financing Initiative to leverage private funds to increase the availability of affordable, healthy foods in underserved urban and rural communities across the country.

Recommendation 4.2: Local governments should be encouraged to create incentives to attract supermarkets and grocery stores to underserved neighborhoods and improve transportation routes to healthy food retailers.

Recommendation 4.3: Food distributors should be encouraged to explore ways to use their existing distribution chains and systems to bring fresh and healthy foods into underserved communities.

Recommendation 4.4: Encourage communities to promote efforts to provide fruits and vegetables in a variety of settings and encourage the establishment and use of direct-to-consumer marketing outlets such as farmers’ markets and community supported agriculture subscriptions.

Recommendation 4.5: Encourage the establishment of regional, city, or county food policy councils to enhance comprehensive food system policy that improves health.

Recommendation 4.6: Encourage publicly and privately-managed facilities that serve children, such as hospitals, after school programs, recreation centers, and parks (including national parks) to implement policies and practices, consistent with the Dietary Guidelines, to promote healthy foods and beverages and reduce or eliminate the availability of calorie-dense, nutrient-poor foods.

Recommendation 4.7: Provide economic incentives to increase production of healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, as well as create greater access to local and healthy food for consumers.

Recommendation 4.8: Demonstrate and evaluate the effect of targeted subsidies on purchases of healthy food through nutrition assistance programs.

Recommendation 4.9: Analyze the effect of state and local sales taxes on less healthy, energy-dense foods

Recommendation 4.10: The food, beverage, and restaurant industries should be encouraged to use their creativity and resources to develop or reformulate more healthful foods for children and young people.

Recommendation 4.11: Increase participation rates in USDA nutrition assistance programs through creative outreach and improved customer service, state adoption of improved policy options and technology systems, and effective practices to ensure ready access to nutrition assistance program benefits, especially for children.


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