Food insecurity is more often in the news since Covid-19 is making it worse. While problems can be easy to identify, what’s difficult is finding effective solutions. There are a few solutions to food deserts and food apartheid that are worth discussing, but first, let’s talk more about the problem.
What are food deserts?
In case you didn’t read my previous story, Food Deserts Were a Problem Before and Now They’re Getting Worse, an area is considered a food desert when a sizable portion (at least 500 people or 33 percent ) of the population living in a low-income census tract is about 1 mile (1.6 km) away from a large supermarket in urban areas, or 10 miles (16 km) away from a large supermarket in rural areas. Food deserts are widespread across the United States. The USDA’s Food Access Research Atlas map shows locations that are low-income and have low access to supermarkets around the country.
Many low-income people rely on public transportation, biking, or walking to get to the market. And while that’s not the worst fate, it is cumbersome to have to carry bags of groceries back home using these modes of transportation.
Now that we have an idea of the problem, how can we resolve this? Here are several possible solutions, some of which have been implemented successfully, to mitigate food insecurity.
Food Desert Solutions
1. Establish bus stop farmers markets
Farmers markets are nothing new, but a bus stop farmers market puts a new spin on where they are usually located. Bus stops, train stations, and other public transportation hubs are being used as the location for small pop-up style farmers markets in impoverished areas. The idea is to give people who work the opportunity to pick up farm-fresh groceries while on their commute home.
Prices are usually discounted in many locations and food stamps are accepted. Bus stop farmers markets can be found in Dayton, Ohio; Tampa, Florida; and Atlanta, Georgia. The Tampa Bay market was so successful a second location was opened.