Coming soon to a neighborhood near you — Aldis, Walgreen’s… Walmart?
If Rahm Emanuel has his way, these three stores may make their way into low-income “food deserts” in Chicago that are starved for affordable groceries. Food deserts are neighborhoods where a third of the population lives more than a mile from a large grocery store and at least a fifth of the population lives at or below the poverty line.
But bringing in Walmart, or any other chain store for that matter, isn’t going to solve the food desert problem. Nor is it going to wipe out the obesity epidemic. Access to supermarkets does not improve diets. Becoming educated about healthy eating choices then making those healthy choices does.
So how can you make healthy food choices if you’re living in a food desert? If you qualify for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the program includes vouchers for buying fruits and vegetables and are also accepted at many farmer’s markets. You can also use their recipe finder which includes a database of foods that are low-cost and readily available.
If you’re not sure if you live in food desert, the USDA has created an interactive map that allows you to type in an address and find out where food deserts are located. It’s a good start, but what it really needs to offer is how to find healthy foods nearby.