Lack of access to proper nutrition is one reason why many children are not eating the recommended levels of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
More than 23 million Americans, including 6.5 million children, live in low-income urban and rural neighborhoods that are more than a mile away from a supermarket. These communities, where access to affordable, quality, and nutritious foods is limited, are known as "food deserts."
Hunger among our children is even more widespread. A recent U.S. Department of Agricluture report showed that in 2008, an estimated 49.1 million people, including 16.7 million children, lived in households that experienced food insecurity multiple times throughout the year. Too often, these same school age children are not eating the recommended level of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products. Let’s Move! is committed to helping ensure that all families have access to healthy, affordable food in their communities.
Get started by initiating a conversation about childhood obesity in your community. Bring together everyone who has a role –parents, city offices, faith-based and community-based organizations, schools, parks and recreation departments, businesses, childcare facilities and hospitals. Then, work together to make neighborhoods healthier by creating opportunities for physical activity and access to healthy, affordable food.
With the conversation started, take the next step and become a Let’s Move! City or Town. Every city and every town is different, and each requires a distinct approach to this issue. Let’s Move Cities and Towns emphasizes the unique ability of communities to solve the challenge locally, aided by the crucial leadership of mayors and elected officials to provoke action.
Healthy Food Financing Initiative
The Healthy Food Financing Initiative, launched by the Obama administration, is a partnership between the U.S. Departments of Treasury, Agriculture and Health and Human Services to provide financing for developing and equipping grocery stores, small retailers, corner stores, and farmers markets selling healthy food in underserved areas.
Lack of access contributes to poor diet and can lead to higher levels of obesity and other diet-related diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease. But, this is a solvable problem. And that is why the Healthy Food Financing Initiative provides financing tools for healthy food retailers in the form of tax credits, grants, or low-cost loans and technical assistance. In addition, this initiative serves the dual purpose of not only facilitating access to healthy food options, but also providing employment and business development opportunities in low-income communities.
Farmers' markets are another innovative yet simple approach in solving healthy food access issues in many of our communities. Many markets now participate in the WIC, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Double Dollar, and senior benefits program so that fresh produce is not out of reach for those with limited or fixed incomes.
Through these initiatives and private sector engagement, the Administration is working to eliminate food deserts across the country within seven years.