Many of the leading chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and some forms of cancer have strong, undeniable links to how we eat, meaning that healthy eating is a key ingredient for good health.
So what gets in the way of healthy eating? A "grocery gap" is felt by many Minnesotans, with nearly half (49 percent) reporting that not having a store nearby that sells healthy food impacts what they eat. Low accessibility, availability and affordability of healthy food often mean that Minnesotans who live in low-income communities and remote areas are far more likely than other people to experience challenges to healthy eating. A lack of full-service grocery stores and a high prevalence of convenience foods in communities mean that age-old food adage should actually be: 'we are where we eat.'
The Endless Benefits of Access to Healthy Foods
Real Stories of Minnesotans Pulling Together
Nearly 9 percent of people in Dakota County are classified as "food insecure." That means they lack the ability to afford enough nutritionally adequate, safe food for an active, healthy life. That’s higher than demographically similar counties of Anoka, Carver, Scott or Washington. The low-income neighborhoods where these culturally diverse people live are more likely to experience health disparities because of lower access to full-service grocery stores. Instead, they have concentrations of fast food, alcohol and tobacco retailers. To address this issue, The Open Door (formerly the Eagan and Lakeville Resource Center) and Woodhill Urban Agriculture (WUA) are working to expand an existing collaborative network called Homegrown South to change policy, systems and environments at the organizational, institutional and community level to improve health.
steps for action
How can you find out more about healthy food access in your community?
Where do you start? How about checking out the Minnesota Food Charter
and becoming a Food Charter Champion!