Why Healthy Food Access Matters
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that 40 million people live in neighborhoods without easy access to fresh, affordable, and nutritious food options. Accessing healthy food can mean multiple bus rides while carting groceries and children, or scrambling to find someone with a car who is willing to drive to the nearest market. This problem affects residents in both urban and rural parts of the US--it is estimated that 4.6 million people live in rural areas without access to a full service grocery store. These areas are greatly in need of reliable transportation, in addition to the jobs and economic activity that grocery stores and healthy food retail can provide.
The good news is that healthy food access projects have been proven to revitalize local economies, expand access to healthy food, and improve health across the United States. Ensuring access to healthy food is an important element of an equitable food system, one in which those most vulnerable and those living in low-income neighborhoods, communities of color, and rural and tribal communities can fully participate, prosper, and benefit. An equitable food system is one that, from farm to table, from processing to disposal, ensures economic opportunity—high-quality jobs with living wages; safe working conditions; access to healthy, affordable, and culturally appropriate food; and environmental sustainability.
The federal Healthy Food Financing Initiative has helped leverage more than $195 million in grants and an estimated $1 billion in additional financing. The initiative has supported 950 grocery and other healthy food retail projects in more than 35 states across the country, revitalizing economies, creating jobs, and improving health. Learn about the 2017 Healthy Food Financing Initiative Grantees.