Food deserts are areas that lack access to affordable fresh meats, dairy products, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other foods that make up a healthy diet; they are a major factor in overall food insecurity in our nation. The USDA defines a food desert as having a poverty rate of 20% or greater, and by how close residents are to supermarkets. In urban food deserts, people live more than a mile away from a supermarket. In rural food deserts, distance to a grocery store is greater than 10 miles.
A 2012 USDA report showed that the main characteristics of food desert areas are: a very large or very sparse population, low income, high levels of unemployment, inadequate access to transportation, and a low number of food retailers providing fresh produce at affordable prices.
Food desert residents usually struggle with a combination of these factors and there are differing schools of thought regarding food deserts and their true effects.
Availability, Accessibility, and Affordability Are Issues—Or Are They?
The most wide-spread thinking holds that residents of food deserts have difficulty juggling availability,