It is estimated that 30-40 percent of food grown, processed, and transported in the U.S. this year will be wasted. Still, Feeding America estimates that 49 million Americans are considered food insecure and nearly 23.5 million live in food deserts. The USDA defines food deserts as urban neighborhoods and rural towns without ready access to fresh, health, and affordable food. Living in a food desert means that your access to healthy, wholesome, and nutritious foods is limited or non-existent; food deserts are inextricably linked to populations with poorer health and are most commonly found in low-income and low-access communities.
The dichotomy presented in the Huffington Post article World Population Day: Addressing Food Deserts in the Land of Plenty highlights a nutritional disparity in America that can be traced back to food deserts, an issue that is chiefly one of accessibility, availability, and affordability. Planning can help to close the gap and reduce health disparities by helping to increase access to environments with healthy and nutritious foods.
Whether it’s allocating space for a weekly farmers market in a food desert or low-income community or working within existing infrastructure to bring nutritious food items into “entrenched convenience store networks,” it is clear that planning plays an integral role in creating healthier and more equitable communities.
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