Food Deserts

Demand for and access to affordable, nutritious food is at the forefront of the U.S. food desert problem. Definitively, food deserts are characterized as a food environment that does not have the resources or product offerings that society has come to expect from a flourishing community.  Food deserts have the peculiar feature that nutritious food is scarce, or if available it is usually of low quality and sold at exorbitant prices.  Detroit, MI is arguably America’s oldest and worst food desert, where in 2007 there were approximately 500,000 people living under such conditions.  Gallagher (2007) reported that in 2007, 92% of Detroit’s Food Stamp retailers were gas stations, liquor stores, party stores, dollar stores, bakeries, pharmacies, convenience stores, and other fringe food retail venues that offer limited, if any, nutritious food choices.  Additionally within the city of Detroit, there are no full-service supermarket chains operating within the 139 square mile city.  The last surviving supermarket chain within the city closed all but one of its stores in 2005, and that store was closed in 2007.  This integrated, multidisciplinary team is committed to understanding the societal challenges driving the food desert problem and formulating practical solutions to alleviate its effects.

 

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