What is a food desert and what can we do about them?

A community that is more than 10 miles from a grocery store is considered a food desert. In these areas convenience stores and fast food restaurants move in to create food swamps. Food is available, but most of it is processed and fried, and is high in fat, salt and chemicals. These same “bad” foods are available at a grocery store as well, however at least there are options.


I conducted an experiment with a $20 limit to feed 4 people. I went to a traditional grocery store and bought a rotisserie chicken, a bag of salad, a bottle of salad dressing, corn, 1/2 gallon of tea and bananas. Next I went to a convenience store and bought 4 honey buns, 4 sodas and a bag of chips. Both totals without tax was under the $20 limit. The difference in the nutritional values is astonishing. The grocery store foods have less than half the calories of the convenience store foods. Each honey bun has approximately 560 calories!!


This experiment, while not perfect, illustrates 2 major concepts. Better food is not always too expensive and access to good food still needs to be addressed. Yes, convenience stores in some areas have a few fresh food items available, but not in food desert areas where there is no competition. Convenience stores opt to put items on the shelf which allow them to make the most profit. And fresh fruit and vegetables don’t make the cut.


One organization doing the right thing in the DC area is The DC Central Kitchen. They are attacking the problem head-on with social projects to directly address issues in their community. They offer job training, food to the hungry, healthy food access and food waste reduction. Check them out at https://dccentralkitchen.org/


If you live in a food desert or food swamp area, let your store owner know you want healthier food options. We’d love to hear from you about how you were able to make a change in your neighborhood. #foodjustice #kellyskitchen #wewantfreshfood

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