Sunday, February 8, 2009

Study shows potential of existing food systems

"Beyond Food Deserts: Measuring and Mapping Racial Disparities in Neighborhood Food Environments" by Samina Raja, Changxing Ma, & Pavan Yadav, provides more evidence that building community and the capacity of local systems is a key strategy in addressing even the most challenging issues.

The study found that, "contrary to reports in the popular press and studies from elsewhere in the country (Mari Gallaghar Research and Consulting Group 2006) extensive network of small grocery stores available within a five-minute travel time of minority neighborhoods offers a tremendous opportunity for creating healthful food environments within neighborhoods of color.

The study substantiates what we already knew, that there is an absence of certain healthful food sources, namely supermarkets, in neighborhoods like Bayview Hunters Point when compared to predominantly white neighborhoods.

The new findings offer insight into effective strategies to bring good food to communities like Bayview. Instead of trying to get supermarkets to open up stores here, the study suggests that "creative planning and policy support for networks of existing small grocery stores may be a more efficient strategy for ensuring access to healthful foods within minority neighborhoods."

Literacy for Environmental Justice's Good Neighbor program is an example of efforts to strengthen existing food retailing systems. Community-based food production like that which Hunters Point Family and the Quesada Gardens Initiative is engaged in, is another important capacity-building strategy.

See more about this issue and efforts in Bayview to support local food at resident Rhonda Winters' blog, at the Southeast Food Access Working Groups' online space, and in 2007's food preferences survey for the southeast sector.

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