NationSwell: Which U.S. City is Close to Eliminating its Food Desert?

Almost a quarter million people are eating healthier, thanks to one innovative idea. (via NationSwell)

The Food Trust of Philadelphia, one of the most ambitious programs of its kind in one of America’s poorest and most unhealthy big cities, began in a public housing development in South Philly, with volunteers piling mounds of fruits and veggies on one long table outside the project each week. Since 1992, they’ve taken their work beyond that first farmer’s market, improving access to healthy food and nutritional information for nearly 220,000 residents in poor neighborhoods — making Philadelphia one of the first cities to meet the First Lady’s “Let’s Move” challenge to eliminate food deserts entirely by 2017.

“We started to see that farmer’s markets provide seasonal access to fresh fruits and vegetables, not a long-term solution — or the only solution. They really only can open in summer on the East Coast. We realized it was really important to look at the longer term and more comprehensive approaches to food access,” says Candace Young, spokesperson for the nonprofit. Around 2004, “the first thing we did was we mapped out areas of the city that had low access to supermarkets and high-diet related deaths — the pockets of the city that needed better access. We sent that report to policy makers and practitioners, the health community and its advocates, the food retail community. What was built from there was this multi-million dollar public-private initiative to build new or even just renovate supermarkets around the whole state.”


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