September 21, 2011
Toni Carey also regularly blogs about social media and health care issues for The Buzz Bin, a PR and marketing blog.This post originally appeared on the Buzz Bin blog on Sept. 16.
Food deserts (any census area where at least 20 percent of inhabitants are below the poverty line and 33 percent) continue to be a hot topic as the obesity epidemic remains a nationwide focus. Earlier this year, Rishabh Mehrotra, president and chief executive officer of SHPS, Inc., wrote a guest post for The Buzz Bin about food desert ratios and how to fill the gap. He noted that, “the average American family of four grocery budget of $700 per month is 3.5 times the monthly food budget of families in low-income neighborhoods” and food prices “are between 6 percent to 21 percent higher in lower income neighborhoods due to the inability to use standard trucking and processes.”
No one can deny that food deserts continue to be an issue affecting those living in urban and low-income neighborhoods, but the economic downturn has also spawned a new problem for middle class Americans. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s new interactive map, food deserts spread across the country from the West Coast to the East Coast, showing that access to food is no longer only a problem for impoverished communities and represents 10 percent of the country.A 2008 study reported that more than 16 percent of Americans (49 million people) ran short of nutritious food, which is the largest number in the report’s history. Another study found that approximately 1 in 7 in the U.S. receive food stamps and nearly 15 percent of U.S. households were found to have low or very low “food security” (availability of food and one’s access to it). While the problem is becoming more apparent, the good news is that there are a number of innovative approaches being developed to being developed to combat this issue:
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