What is a Food Desert?
A food desert is an area within a community that is not in close proximity to fresh produce e.g grocery stores, farmers' markets. These underserved communities are susceptible to health problems due to poor diet and rely on fast food chains in order to sustain themselves. This leads to a diet high in caloric value and low nutritional value.
Communities who face this challenge are susceptible to diseases like Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, and morbid obesity. These diseases can be prevalent in future generations, making them more prone to health complications at a younger age.
Is Riverside a Food desert?
According to a study done in 2018, Riverside is considered a food desert in areas where poverty exceeds 25%. This is not only unique to just the Riverside area. Places such as those in the Coachella Valley area and San Bernardino suffer from food insecurity and do not have readily available access to the foods they need to live a healthy lifestyle.
The areas marked in pink indicate a high concentration of food deserts.
Building and creating community gardens for these underserved communities can help them have access to fresh produce in their area, but also build a sense of community by joining together and working for a common cause.
One good example here on campus is the R'Garden. It is open to all students and is a great place to learn and explore gardening.
Another way to contribute is by donating to food banks in food-insecure areas. One last thing that might help alleviate these communities is if farmers markets reach out to them and start selling near their neighborhoods so that they are able to access the freshest produce.