Recent programs by the U.S. Department of Agriculture have sought to address food deserts across the country. A term popularized by First Lady Michelle Obama, food deserts refers to areas on the country with little access to nutritious food. These regions are typically impoverished and very often are inner cities.
The USDA officially defines a food desert as a region where 33 percent of the population lives more than a mile from a grocery store in an urban area, or more than ten miles in a rural area. In addition, at least 20 percent of the population must live below the poverty line.
Michelle Obama has long sought to address nutrition in the United States. Part of her 2010 food desert effort has been to ensure that impoverished areas still have access to affordable, nutritious food. Due to her efforts, stores such as Walgreens and Rite Aid have begun offering fresh fruits and vegetables. Other USDA initiative have attempted to expand the ability of urban residents to order groceries online and increased use of farmers markets.
In addition to these programs, the USDA has offered resources to small farmers in food desert regions. Woodlawn estate, for example, a farm near Alexandria, Virginia grows turnips, kale, and romaine lettuce. This product is then distributed throughout the local community, particularly towns where the only access to food and groceries are the local dollar store or fast food restaurants.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer