Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Fresh Food Access

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention define a food desert as "areas that lack access to affordable fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat milk, and other foods that make up the full range of a healthy diet."  A food desert exists when people live long distances from a supermarket or large grocery store and do not have easy or affordable access to transportation.  While food deserts are not typically of large concern in rural areas such as Wilmington, where farm stands and local produce are readily available, looking at a map will show you that, while we may not have a food desert, fresh food access is far from abundant in Clinton County.

The above map of Wilmington, OH shows five commercial locations where fresh produce can be purchased: Sack n Save, Old Farm Market, Kroger, Aldi, and Wal-Mart.  A half-mile circle has been shaded green around each location to show the availability of walking to each establishment.  Please notice the number of Wilmington city neighborhoods which are not included in these circles.  

The same map now also includes the Clinton County Farmers' Market with its different winter and summer locations.  While the Farmers' Market does not operate daily like the other establishments, it greatly increases the number of Wilmington residents who can walk to purchase fresh produce throughout the year.  Through a partnership with Grow Food, Grow Hope, the Clinton County Farmers' Market is also introducing an EBT program, which will allow the market to accept food assistance benefits like cash.  This program will begin at their first summer market on June 4th.   Accepting food assistance benefits, formerly known as food stamps, will allow a greater number of low-income patrons to come to the market and purchase fresh, local, and affordable foods.  

Through Grow Food, Grow Hope's continuing efforts to teach people to garden, we hope that this map may soon become obselete so that everyone will have equal access to fresh produce whether it is through a garden or from a local grower or grocer.  

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