Interactive ‘food deserts’ U.S. map shows 13.5 million affected


An interactive national map of “food deserts” in the U.S. shows 13.5 milllion are unable to access good food.

Data highlight areas where a significant share of the low-income population is a mile or more from a supermarket. It also shows the number of families living without cars and number of children and elderly members within a household.

The data will be used by the new federal cross-department $400 million Healthy Food Financing Initiative to develop ways to get supermarkets and grocery stores to move in.

As well, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food’s Environment Atlas charts food insecurity, food prices, restaurants and other information by county.

In Canada, every two years Statistics Canada and Health Canada have mapped “food insecurity” provincially for the last decade. The 2007 study, based on the Canadian Community Health Survey, showed 7.7 per cent of Canadians (956,000 households), worried about getting enough to eat or getting good quality food.

The Nutrition and Health Atlas by Health Canada also looks at issues such as provincial food insecurity, obesity, nutrients and physical activity.

In Toronto, the Martin Prosperity Institute has looked at the city’s food deserts mapped against areas dominated by fast-food restaurants.

There are still flaws to the USDA map since states like Colorado that feature farms and ranches and small population appear as vast food deserts as do college and university campuses, which are populated with low-income earners and few grocery stores, but aren’t necessarily home to those lacking food.

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