In 2015, the American Heart Association in Hampton Roads, Virginia added a new dimension to its annual 5k Heart Walk by inviting participants to take the Grocery Bag Challenge. Participants carried an eight-pound grocery bag for one mile of the walk to raise awareness of the difficulty faced by people without convenient transportation or grocery stores close to home. Participants reported that it was much harder than they expected!
“There are too many places in this country where it’s easier to buy a grape soda than a bunch of grapes,” explains Caroline Harries, Associate Director at The Food Trust, when she describes food deserts. Although there are many definitions of food deserts, they are commonly understood as places where fresh, nutritious foods are not accessible within a reasonable or convenient distance to travel. They are often defined as one mile in an urban area and ten miles in a rural area. In a car, those distances are no problem.
This blog post was written by Elizabeth Hartig, American Planning Association, and was developed in partnership with Marisa C. Jones, healthy communities manager, Safe Routes Partnership, and Amy Verbofsky, senior planner, Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission.