Access to Healthy and Affordable FoodChisago County, MN
Food insecurity is defined as the disruption of food intake or eating patterns because of lack of money and other resources.
Residents are at risk for food insecurity in neighborhoods where transportation options are limited, the travel distance to stores is greater, and there are fewer supermarkets. Lack of access to public transportation or a personal vehicle limits access to food. Groups who may lack transportation to healthy food sources include those with chronic diseases or disabilities, residents of rural areas, and some minority groups (1).
What is a food desert: The US Department of Agriculture considers a census tract to be a food desert if it is low income (poverty rate greater than or equal to 20% or median family income at 80% or lower of the area median family income) and at least one-third of tract residents live more than 1 mile away (or 10 miles away in the case of rural areas) from a supermarket or large grocery store (1).
Low-income: a poverty rate of 20 percent or greater, or a median family income at or below 80 percent of the statewide or metropolitan area median family income
Low-access: at least 500 persons and/or at least 33 percent of the population lives more than 1 mile from a supermarket or large grocery store (10 miles, in the case of rural census tracts)
This 2015 map indicates a significant number of low-income residents in the northern half of North Branch is more than 1 mile (urban) and 10 miles (rural) from the nearest supermarket.
In 2016 Rush City Foods closed and Rush City was left without a grocery store with the nearest supermarket 11.2 miles away in Pine City. In 2018 a Kwik Trip has opened in its place. Although Kwik Trip offers a small amount of healthy food options, Rush City is considered a food desert.
Food Assistance Programs
Food assistance programs, such as the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), address barriers to accessing healthy food (2).
Percentage of adults who used a community food shelf program, SNAP, WIC, Fair Share or other supplemental food program
A diet rich in vegetables and fruits can lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, prevent some types of cancer, lower risk of eye and digestive problems, and have a positive effect upon blood sugar, which can help keep appetite in check (3).
Grocery Stores in Chisago County
Addressing disparities in dietary quality may have important payoffs for the health of the population: we should promote policies and programs to support these changes while studying their effectiveness. These strategies do not preclude the elimination of food deserts but rather build a necessary infrastructure to promote healthy food consumption, in any neighborhood.
Local food environments influence the choices made by children, families, and community members.
1. United States Department of Agriculture. Characteristics and Influential
Factors of Food Deserts. (2012). Retrieved from: https://www.ers.usda.gov/webdocs/publications/45014/30940_err140.pdf
2. Health People 2020. Food Insecurity. Retrieved from: https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topics-objectives/topic/social-determinants-health/interventions-resources/food-insecurity#1
3. Harvard School of Public Health. Vegetables and Fruit. (2015). Retrieved from: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/vegetables-and-fruits/