Civil Eats has a terrific column exploring the results of the past decades’ food and health-focused efforts.They say that whether or not Americans have access to fresh and healthy food still has everything to do with their ZIP codes. Communities across the nation are grappling with food insecurity in both urban and rural settings, and many government programs designed to help those in need, including immigrants, are currently under threat.
To mark Civil Eats’ 10th anniversary, it conducted a series of roundtable discussions in an effort to take an in-depth look at many of the most important topics they’ve covered. Here are the top-line findings:
Ashante Reese, assistant professor of sociology and anthropology working on food and race and food inequities at Spelman College, said, "One of the biggest changes I’ve noticed is that the definition has become more nuanced since the early 2000s. At around that time, food access was almost synonymous with supermarkets or grocery stores, and I think now people are really asking: What are other ways for us to imagine and create more access that isn’t just about adding another corporation into a neighborhood?"
Samina Raja, a professor of urban and regional planning who focuses on food access and food systems planning at University of Buffalo’s School of Architecture and Planning, said, "In 2008, I did a study in Buffalo titled 'Beyond Food Deserts'; the study was an attempt to draw the attention of local governments to recognize that there are racial and income disparities in neighborhoods. In my work over the last decade, we’ve gone from convincing local governments that food systems are something we ought to think about to raising the issue of food access. It’s definitely not a marginal conversation any longer."
David Procter is the director of the Kansas State Rural Grocery Initiative. He says that access to healthy food has become more on the radar of food retailers in rural parts of the country—they now see it as an important piece of their grocery operations.
The times—they are changing.