Improving Access to Healthy Foods
Access to Grocery Stores vs. Convenience Stores
Did you know access to large grocery stores increases fruit and vegetable intake, whereas access to convenience stores decreases intake? Low income, minority, and rural neighborhoods have less access to supermarkets and healthful food but have increased access to convenience stores and the nutrient-poor, high-calorie foods that are often found in these food outlets.
In a study of neighborhoods in Detroit, increased access to supermarkets increased adult fruit and vegetable servings by 0.69 servings per day. White, black, and Hispanic adults all consumed more servings of fruits and vegetables when a large grocery store was present in their neighborhood, with the highest increase for Hispanic adults. Convenience stores significantly decreased fruit and vegetable intake among Hispanic adults.
Innovative Food Programs to Improve Access to Healthy Food
As the importance of access to healthy food is increasingly recognized, innovative food programs are gaining in popularity. Community gardens, suburban farms, and collaborations between backyard vegetable gardens and local food banks all offer ideas for solutions for inadequate access to fresh fruits and vegetables. City and state land use policies can affect the success of these types of programs. The ultimate effect of these programs on children’s health, particularly in vulnerable populations, remains to be seen.