Thank you, Pittsburgh, for giving residents and visitors safer streets for walking, biking, and increased physical activity!
Millions of Americans still lack access to healthy affordable food, particularly low-income communities, sparsely populated rural areas and communities of color, according to findings from our friends at The Food Trust and PolicyLink.
In Access to Healthy Food and Why It Matters, PolicyLink and the Food Trust review more than 170 studies examining food access in the United States, finding that hundreds of neighborhoods across the country do not have access to nutritious, affordable and high quality food. Between 25 and 30 million Americans lack access to a supermarket within a reasonable distance from their home, while there are hundreds of rural counties where all residents live several miles from a supermarket or similar store.
“Even as progress is being made to improve access in urban neighborhoods and rural communities, millions of Americans are still struggling to put healthy food on the table,” said Allison Karpyn, director of research and evaluation at The Food Trust. “We hope this new research contributes to action at the local, state, regional, and national levels to leverage resources and target efforts to the places with the greatest need.”
Compounding the access problem is the fact that many low-income neighborhoods are home to corner and liquor stores that sell mostly processed, unhealthy foods. Often, these neighborhoods do not have public transportation to reach supermarkets, meaning residents without an automobile are stuck.
The report also finds that residents with greater access to supermarkets are more likely to eat healthy, and access to that healthy food is associated with a lower risk for obesity and other diet-related chronic conditions.
In addition, the authors note that areas that have seen new healthy food retail have been revitalized. Grocery stores provide much-needed jobs in low-income neighborhoods — 24 new jobs are created for every 10,000 square feet of retail grocery space. That means a large market can generate between 150 and 200 jobs.
Given this data, the authors recommend that policymakers work to attract grocery stores and supermarkets to the underserved neighborhoods they represent. Other policy suggestions include developing retail outlets such as farmers’ markets and mobile vendors and ensuring public benefits can be used to purchase goods; increasing the stock of produce and other healthy items at corner markets; and improving public transportation to grocery stores and other retailers that sell healthy food.
Two new complete streets and equity reports have been released and are the result of a project to study equity elements in complete streets policies, the characteristics of communities with equity elements in their policies, and to qualitatively understand how equity elements in complete streets policies are being implemented in practice. Learn more about the reports here.
Eight applicants have been awarded funds that will help young students walk, bike and roll safely to and from school.
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Leaders are people who are actively working - either professionally or as volunteers - to change policies and environments to help children eat better and be more active. We use the following criteria to evaluate whether to approve an applicant for Leader status with the Voices for Healthy Kids Action Center.
Do you meet the criteria below? If so, register as a Leader here. There is no cost to be a Leader.
At least one item must be checked within each of the following two categories:
1. Applicant is focused on changing policies and environments
They are working on one of Voices for Healthy Kid's six issue areas:
Ensure foods and beverages in schools meet dietary guidelines
Expand community access to high quality food
Expand physical activity programs in and out of school
Improve built environment in communities to increase physical activity
Use pricing strategies to promote purchase of healthier foods
Use regulation/policy to reduce youth exposure to unhealthy food marketing
They are working on other obesity-related issues, such as:
Their primary focus is working on individual behavior (e.g., teaching kids about food, play, etc.), but they have access to organizations that could provide opportunities to change environments, such as
Public Health Agencies
Their project is commercial, but contributes positively to changing policies and environments, such as:
2. Applicant is organizing others or contributing to organizing efforts
They are organizing others by:
Providing volunteer opportunities
Building contact lists of supporters to engage in advocacy
They provide support to organizations or leaders doing work changing policies and environments, such as:
They are a leader in a governmental body that may be the target of organizing efforts to change policies and environments, such as a:
Federal or state agency
Mayor or other local executive office
Federal, state, county or local public health department
Federal, state, county or transportation department
Federal, state or local education agency or school board
If the applicant claims to work for an organization, at least one item must be checked below:
3. Applicant works for an organization:
Has an email address that matches the domain of the organization they list
Is listed on the organization website as staff
The Voices for Healthy Kids Action Center is looking for bloggers who can write about issues that matter to our community on a regular basis. If you would like to be considered for this network, please check this box.