Can Minnesota Irrigate Its Food Deserts?
Volunteers plant a giving garden at Neighborhood House’s Wellstone Campus.
Imagine you live in a neighborhood where your nearest source of food is a fast food restaurant or gas station, and the closest grocery store is over a mile away. Maybe you have a car, perhaps you don’t. What if you have mobility restrictions, live in an unsafe area, or our frigid Minnesota winter makes the journey impassable by foot? Limited food access is a challenge faced daily by over one million Minnesotans.
What is a food desert?
Access to healthy food options are worsening throughout Minnesota’s urban and rural communities.
According to recent research by the Wilder Foundation and the Federal Reserve Bank, 1.6 million Minnesotans now live in areas without easy access to a grocery store or supermarket.
These food deserts, or “low access areas,” exist where the nearest grocery store is over 1 mile away in an urban setting or 10 miles away in a rural setting. In all, nearly 1/3 of Minnesotans now live in places without easy access to fresh, healthy food.
Using 2015 data, the USDA has created an interactive map of areas throughout the United States suffering from limited food access.
Restricted access to grocery stores poses a significant problem for seniors and children, a growing number of whom are facing hunger statewide. The health implications for those residing in low access areas becomes even more pronounced as these families are forced to rely on unhealthy processed foods to meet their dietary needs.
The Good Food Access Bill (SF 1024) would provide $10 million in critically-needed funds to create food markets, support existing stores, and launch mobile grocery trucks serving high-need areas throughout Minnesota. This bill has bi-partisan support, but faces a steep climb toward legislation.
To make a difference for families struggling with hunger, call your Representative and Senator, and encourage them to vote in favor of fresh, healthy food access for all families.
Find your Legislators and their contact information HERE.
Sample Phone Conversation
Hello, my name ______. I live in ______ and my zip code is ______. I’m calling to let (Representative or Senator) know that I support access to good food for all Minnesotans. Thank you!