By Ophelia Eden
Imagine having to drive over 15 miles to the nearest grocery store, in order to purchase fresh ingredients for dinner.
In our society we are accustomed to a grocery store on nearly every block, always stocked with a variety of fruits, vegetables, and dairy products. However, the harsh reality that many low-income communities in this country face, is an epidemic known as a “Food Desert”.
Food Deserts are problems that occur across the country, predominantly in low-income neighborhoods, where residents lose access to fresh produce and meat. The effected community is restricted to cheap fast food, and snacks purchased in liquor stores. These options may seem harmless, but considering an increase of food deserts results in decreased health and higher rates of obesity due to lower nutrients, added fats in fast food, and other factors within dietary options no longer of ease access.
The catalyst to food deserts were brought about by latest decision to shut down 154 Walmart stores due to their poor performance. The mass closure will leave 31 neighborhoods in 15 states without locations for fresh food.
Nearly five years ago Michelle Obama created a campaign to end childhood obesity. Within her campaign several major food retail companies pledged to help end food deserts by renovating or building new stores. Only Walmart and an independent store had met their goals. However, the areas that will now suffer the most from the closures are the same locations that were promised access to healthy foods within those pledges. The effects of closing markets extend past health risks, but into the rate of employment and access to medication
In Fairfield Alabama, over 1,000 jobs were lost to the lay offs of U.S Steel Corp. The city must also face an additional 300 from the Walmart locations closing in their area. When the Walmart shoping hub was built nearly 4 years ago in Wichita Kansas, residents rejoiced. The Walmart shopping center replaced an area previously riddled with prostitution and gang related activity. Now residents are heart broken, and fear illicit activities will soon return. In Coal Hill, Arkansas, The Walmart shopping center was the only pharmacy and grocery store within 15 miles. Residents without cars or transportation now have no way to fulfill their basic needs.
Source: The Big Story. AP