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Deserts in the American Midwest


Millions of people across the United States live in low-income areas with little or no access to supermarkets or grocery stores. In Ohio alone, nearly 2 million people are affected by this issue.

One such area is Vinton County, where in the past few years two grocery stores have come and gone, leaving residents with no options for fresh meats and produce.

“We have to take people shopping because there’s no place to shop,” says Rhoda Price, director of Vinton County Senior Services. “To pick up an average client in Vinton County we’re going to have to average at least 20 miles round trip, and it can go up as high as 60 round trip.”

But one organization, the Ohio Healthy Food Movement, wants to put an end to these hardships. “This video illustrates why funding is so critical,” said Cresha Auck Foley, the American Heart Association’s Government Relations Director for Ohio. The Ohio Healthy Food Movement is just one group hoping that funding for healthy food access can be added to the state’s budget this year.

However, they also recognize that funding might not be the end-all solution for every community. Some small town grocery stores just don’t have the buying power to acquire the healthiest options. Take for example Toledo.

“In Toledo we know that the food bank can actually buy in bulk, and then the smaller stores can purchase through them,” Foley said. “So in addition to seeking funds, we’re also trying to gather stories about places where funding wasn’t the issue―so that if communities need other solutions we can share them.”

The Ohio Healthy Food Movement most recently helped get shared use legislation passed in the state. Now, they hope that the alliances they’ve made with that work will also help work toward solutions to food access barriers.

“The community is behind efforts to do something,” said Terri Fetherolf, development director for Vinton County.  “More than the economics of it and more than the health impact, I think it would bring back a sense of hope.”

To watch the full video, please click here.