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Entries in Chicago’s A Recipe for Healthy Places (1)


Food Deserts Shrinking in Chicago As Mayor Expands Community Gardens & Other Initiatives

Food deserts have become a major concern in the United States, with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reporting to Congress that, “Limited access to nutritious food and relatively easier access to less nutritious foods may be linked to poor diets and ultimately to obesity and diet-related diseases.”

Food desert. Image created by Leigh Burmesch.

Generally speaking, a food desert is an area where residents live at least a mile from a large supermarket or grocery store, where they can buy quality meats, as well as fresh fruits and vegetables.

The USDA found in 2009 that about “23.5 million people live in low-income areas that are more than one mile from a supermarket or large grocery store.

“A key concern for people who live in areas with limited access is that they rely on small grocery or convenience stores that may not carry all of the foods needed for a healthy diet, and that may offer these foods and other foods at higher prices.”

While it’s a growing concern at the national level, the problem of food deserts and healthy eating is proving to be an issue primary being acted on at the local city level.

Over the past several years, Chicago has taken on the task of becoming a leader in making progress in combating food deserts and health-related issues, primarily obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

Chicago’s A Recipe for Healthy Places initiative reported that, “Rates of obesity in Chicago have doubled among adults and tripled among children since 1980, which mirrors trends in other urban areas in the U.S. and the country as a whole.”

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