Food deserts aren't a place. They're 'an experience' - Generocity Philly

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Nov. 16, 2016 9:25 am

Food deserts aren’t a place. They’re ‘an experience’

It's not just geographic location. Individual factors like income, disability and education also play a role. Next City reports on personal grocery habits of Philadelphians.

Food deserts are more than geography.

(Photo by Flickr user Polycart, used under a Creative Commons license)

Maps can tell you where people shop. What they can’t do, it turns out, is explain how and why people shop the way they do.

It’s a new food security challenge for policymakers and practitioners. Once upon a time, the solution seemed simple: Identify a food desert and throw up a grocery store with fresh, healthy food options. If you build it, they will come — right?

No. This story in Next City explains why.

Read the full story

Researchers are coming to the conclusion that food deserts are much less a physical place than they are a personal experience determined by individualized factors such as income, education and habits. Food security is not just an access issue anymore. The barrier to healthy shopping and eating is much more intangible.

That means legislators and providers once tasked with increasing access must now find a way to create opportunity. There need to be incentives beyond discounts and weekly specials — programs that get healthy foods off the shelves and into the hands of shoppers.

Vetri Community Partnership‘s solution is an educational food truck that will traverse Philadelphia’s neighborhoods and partner with vendors to show folks how to actually make meals with healthy foods like kale.

Like anything else, food security is not just about showing up. It’s about sticking around to see the job through.

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