Healthful Foods Not An Option For Many
Poorer Areas Lack Access, Report Says
Thursday, July 13, 2006; Page DZ03
Jessica Jackson smells the waft of fried chicken from a fast-food restaurant as she walks down
A Food Research and
But those places don't provide the staple products necessary for a balanced diet, said Kimberly Perry, director of D.C. Hunger Solutions. Her program, which coordinated the study, said convenience stores don't usually have healthful foods such as whole-wheat bread, skim milk or brown rice. Corner markets that do have those foods, Perry said, are usually more expensive than supermarkets farther away. Those limitations create areas of "community food insecurity," places where fresh and healthful food is not available to everyone.
The food disparity divides the District along race and class lines, Perry said.
There is one grocery store for every 12,000 people in Wards 2 and 3, according to the report. Those areas are majority white and more affluent.
The lower-income, majority-black neighborhoods aren't so fortunate. Ward 7 -- where
More research is needed in this field, Perry said, because only five of an estimated 300 corner markets participated in the survey. Still, Nazneen Ahmad, a nutritional programs specialist with the District's health department, said the limited results jibe with easily observable inventories in many small stores.
"The corner stores tend to be more expensive than the chain supermarkets," said Ahmad, who works with the District's Eat Smart/Move More program. "So we see people not eating healthier there because of cost and also not knowing about healthy food."
Corner markets are not really set up as primary spots to purchase food, said Lori Kim, who helps her family operate Demmie's Market in the 5000 block of
"We just have them because we think it's good to have them, in case someone really needs it," she said. "But we wouldn't make a lot of money selling it."
Cracker boxes, potato chips and cleaning products fill the shelves of Kim's store. Packs of frozen vegetables and three packages of chicken are in a freezer in the back. There is another freezer near the cash register in the front -- it is full of popsicles.
Building a coalition of store owners who buy fresh produce could help reduce the costs of selling it, Perry said. That approach worked in
The Dollar Plus Food Store, at
"We started to lose money when we sold vegetables," Adame said. "Chips, sweets, soda. That's all people seem to want to buy here."