The crunch of a celery stalk. The crisp sweetness of a red bell pepper. The warmth of a freshly baked loaf of bread. We don’t just eat healthy food because we know it’s good for us — we eat it because it makes us feel good too.
But for 29.7 million people living in the United States, enjoying healthy food is difficult at best and impossible at worst. That’s because they live in “food deserts,” the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s term for areas without easy access to grocery stores. And although the term “desert” conjures up faraway places, food deserts are all over America: in cities and in rural areas, from coast to coast.
Not having a local grocery store can have far-ranging impacts on people’s lives. Families who live in communities where they can’t find a bag of apples or a head of lettuce are at greater risk of becoming overweight and obese. Studies show that the closer we are to neighborhood supermarkets, the more likely we are to have healthier lives and lower body weight too.
We can’t sit back while tens of millions of people in America lack access to the kinds of foods that keep us all healthy. Now is the time for families, community leaders, health advocates, business owners and elected officials to come together and find ways to improve access to healthy, affordable foods.
Right now, in many places across the country, public-private partnerships that support healthy food financing initiatives are working to bring full-service grocery stores or supermarkets into the communities that need them most. These efforts are addressing the immediate need for quality produce, low-fat dairy, whole grains, lean meats and other nutritious foods, and they’re helping evaluate just how food access impacts the future for our children and our communities.
The American Heart Association will work to bring Healthy Food Financing Initiatives across the State of Florida. Please make sure to check your inbox for You’re the Cure alerts regarding more information on this topic and others.