In this week’s edition of LEO, Jonathan Meador writes that despite progress in the local food security movement, access to fresh produce is limited in Louisville for low-income residents on public assistance. And that’s important to note given the latest report by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which indicates that Kentucky is one of the fattest states in the country.
…Kentucky is one of eight states that has an obesity rate of more than 30-percent. The commonwealth also ranks third in childhood obesity, at 21 percent, behind Mississippi and Georgia.
The report by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, says Kentucky ranks seventh in adult obesity, at 30.5-percent.
“We have a problem, the problem is acknowledged, we did a public survey in the report, so 80 percent of the American public now understands the problem, and 50 percent or more want to invest in community-based interventions,” said Richard Hamburg, deputy director of the trust.
Earlier this month, the city’s 2010 State of Food Report confirmed the food desert crisis is still largely about a lack of access, which we’ve been reporting for years. The report says there are large food deserts in west Louisville and east downtown, where residents lack grocery stores and private transportation to get to fresh produce.
Still, those areas are densely population with fast food restaurant options:
Although West Louisville and East Downtown lack supermarkets, they have a tremendous amount of access to fast food. The report indicates that along Broadway, which runs from East Downtown to West Louisville, there are a total of 24 fast food restaurants in a 2.8 mile stretch, the highest concentration in the state of Kentucky.
Interestingly, this report even finds that first tier national supermarket chains sell lower quality goods in low-income neighborhoods.
In addition to being underserved by supermarkets and grocery stores, West Louisville and East Downtown residents also have significantly less access to a vehicle than residents of other parts of the city. In Jefferson County as a whole, only 13% of households lack vehicle access. However, 28% of West Louisville households do not have access to a vehicle and a striking 51% of households in East Downtown lack vehicle access.
And making a dent in these figures will depend in part on getting residents on food stamps connected with local farmer’s markets.