10 Miles to the Nearest Fresh Produce

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Access to fresh, nutritious, affordable food is essential for the health and well-being of children and families. Yet data released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service (USDA ERS) show that more than 550,000 Georgians live in food deserts.

A food desert is a low-income census tract where at least a third of the population lives more than a mile away from a supermarket or large grocery store in urban areas, and more than 10 miles in rural areas. Low-income tracts are defined as those where at least 20 percent of the people have income at or below the federal poverty levels.

More than a third of the counties in Georgia have areas where more than 50 percent of the population resides in food deserts, and residents in 87 of Georgia’s 159 counties have low access healthy food. Muscogee and Fulton counties, for instance, have census tracts where more than half the residents don’t own a vehicle, are low income, and live a mile or further from a supermarket or grocery store.

Using food desert data, community planners, local government, and advocates can work with local businesses, farmers, and real estate developers to expand access to affordable, fresh food. The Food Desert Locator, developed by USDA ERS, allows communities to scan a map, zoom into areas, and easily download data for census tracts in Georgia and other states.

Georgia Family Connection Partnership, the Georgia Food Industry Association, and The Food Trust have formed a Georgia Supermarket Access Task Force to develop a solution for this state. Learn more about how Georgia has taken the lead in developing a public-private response to the food-desert issue.