*Source: Access to Affordable and Nutritious Food: Measuring and Understanding Food Deserts and Their Consequences, UDSA, June 2009
$4/Gallon gas?! $5?! Easy? No. Reality? Yes. Costs for oil have been rising, this is not news. Stagnating wages have made this uncomfortable, forcing car ownership to become a larger and larger percentage of family budgets. The silver lining has been an increase in use of public transit, bicycle ridership, and walking, helping the environment and our health, but what if these alternatives were not an option?
Most vulnerable to this shift are low income families in auto-dependent areas. When the cost of oil rises, families have to cut corners, often in food, turning to less expensive processed food. Enter obesity, heart disease, and diabetes, further straining already tight budgets.
Now what if food assist organizations joined forces with affordable housing programs in suburban settings? These community centers could provide walkable access to nutritious food for those who stand the most to gain from healthy, low-cost food options.
Auto-centric planning has created many hurdles for a world of rising energy costs. New programs like Choice Neighborhoods are indicative of an emerging trend to merge funding initiatives for a greater comprehensive impact. WRT is among the leaders in this effort, with successful Choice Neighborhood projects including Meridian, MS, and Jersey City, NJ.