Food Justice or Junk Food?
Recently first lady Michelle Obama announced a partnership with Wal-Mart, Supervalu and Walgreens to combat the issue of food access in communities called food deserts—usually in urban communities and characterized by a lack of access to healthy food options and an over-abundance of fast food. View presentation slides. Give us your feedback.
Food deserts have been painted as areas where residents have limited or no access to retail food options—specifically, major-chain grocery stores. Recent initiatives, such as the White House partnership with Wal-Mart, Supervalu and Walgreens, have been launched to create “food oases” by building more big-box stores. The premise behind this initiative says that building supermarkets in food deserts will increase access to, and consumption of, healthy foods, i.e., fresh fruit and vegetables. An added benefit to this expansion, claim the superstores, is job creation. Wal-Mart representatives describe many of these “food deserts” as “job deserts.”
A recent study has concluded that increased supermarket access “does not translate into improvements in diet and health”—and instead tied health to the prevalence of fast food restaurants. This study has implications not just for the White House initiatives but also for food systems activists, urban farmers and food entrepreneurs grappling with the complex intersection of race, class and healthy food access and consumption.
Dr. Janne Boone-Heinonen, Assistant Professor in the Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at Oregon Health & Science University, presents the research from the Fast Food Restaurants and Food Stores Study which she conducted at the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill. LaDonna Redmond, IATP’s food and justice senior program associate, moderates.
The webinar discussion includes an overview of the research and findings, followed by a question and answer session.