Many people in Tennessee want to feed their families a healthy meal tonight, but simply can’t because they don't live near a supermarket. Or, healthy foods cost too much at the local corner store.
In an effort to improve access to healthy foods, the American Heart Association serves on the Tennessee Grocery Access Task Force along with over 60 health advocates, civic leaders, grocers and economic development officials. Recently, the task force announced its recommendations to alleviate food deserts in the state.
The marquee recommendation is for the State of Tennessee to fund a Fresh Food Financing Initiative that provides incentives to locate new grocery stores selling affordable, healthy and fresh foods in underserved, lower-income communities. This will benefit many Tennesseans who currently rely on unhealthy fast food and snacks, since they do not have supermarkets in their neighborhoods or counties.
- What is a Food Desert? It’s a community with little or no access to fresh, healthy foods—foods that make up the full range of a healthy diet. Residents in these areas, such as parts of Memphis and a lot of Tennessee, do not have supermarkets in their neighborhoods, forcing these families to rely on unhealthy fast food and snacks found at a corner quick market.
- This isn’t just an urban issue. It affects our rural areas, too. There are areas in Rural Tennessee where a grocery store might not be in an entire county. The result leads to undermining the health and well-being of these families, especially their growing children.
Living in a Food Desert is not only hazardous to one's health; it also takes away a child’s chance of living a healthy life as an adult. Now is the time to set the right example and provide easy access to the fresh, healthy foods that every family and child deserves. All families deserve access to healthy food!
Stay tuned for updates on this issue in the coming months.