Skip to Content

One Mile and One Broken Bag Later, OKC Highlights Low Food Access


Walking a mile in someone’s shoes can be a powerful experience. Recently, the American Heart Association of Oklahoma invited people to do just that in order to bring attention to the issue of low access to healthy foods.

During the Heart Walk on April 18 in Oklahoma City (OKC), participants volunteered to carry bags of groceries to simulate what it’s like for those who have to travel that far just to access healthy food options.

“One issue we always face questions about is the definition of ‘low access’ meaning being a mile from healthy options,” said Samantha Bender, OKC grassroots director at the American Heart Association. “People say, ‘well I run a mile every day so it can’t be that bad.’ But they don’t consider routes with no sidewalks or having to carry multiple grocery bags and managing small children.”

Two teams, one of five participants and one of two, shared the burden of carrying grocery bags that weighed around seven pounds. In the bags were essential items like a gallon of water (to simulate milk), canned vegetables, fresh fruit and a loaf of bread.

“We struggled to find people to do it because they know it’s really hard,” Samantha said.

A few minutes after the start of the walk, Samantha found the team of five. Within the first few minutes, one of their grocery bags had ripped. Instead of being frustrated, the team turned it into another learning experience.

The team recognized that breaking bags is a likely situation when carrying groceries that far. “If we were really carrying them for a while, they wouldn’t have held up at all,” they said.

At the end of the walk, the two teams came together to discuss their experiences. The team of five decided that the task was way harder than they had expected, and that the distance traveled felt way longer than a mile.

The team of two had an easier time. But then, Samantha asked how they would feel if they couldn’t share the burden of carrying the bag. “Most people aren’t taking a team to the store and splitting one bag, it’s probably two or three bags on their own.”

“That would have been horrible,” the team of two concluded.

The OKC campaign team hopes this was an eye-opening experience for everyone involved.  To learn more, check out the team’s video.