Local leaders help communities where healthy food is hard to find amid coronavirus

Local leaders help communities where healthy food is hard to find amid coronavirus

Finding groceries has long been a challenge for people living in "food deserts" - areas where affordable, healthy food is scarce because grocery stores are too far away.

And the coronavirus has made the hunt for nutritious fruits and vegetables even more difficult, with shoppers regularly emptying store shelves in supermarkets across the U.S.

"COVID-19 is really exposing some of the limitations or frailty of the food system in general," Michael Prelip, public health professor at UCLA, told USA TODAY.

Data shows that 2.3 million people in the U.S. live more than a mile away from a supermarket and don't have reliable access to a car. Food deserts are also most commonly in low-income neighborhoods, Prelip said.

A 2012 report published in the American Journal of Public Health found that black and Latino neighborhoods have fewer large supermarkets, an abundance of fast food options and more small grocery stores than their white counterparts.

Another issue is whether people have the money to buy groceries. Millions of people have applied for unemployment benefits due to the economic meltdown caused by the virus.

But there's good news: Local leaders, non-profit organizations and restaurants across the nation are mobilizing to help communities in food deserts by delivering groceries and meals.

One of those trying to help is Olympia Auset, founder of SÜPRMARKT, a low-cost pop-up and organic produce delivery service in South Los Angeles, a predominantly black and Latino neighborhood. Auset told USA TODAY that her team "sprang into action" when stores began selling out of beans and other healthy foods.

Before the pandemic, her team would deliver about 20 packages a week. Now they're getting close to 95 orders.

"It's been a real challenge," said Auset. Nonetheless, she said: "We're really happy to keep people out of chaotic spaces or potentially unsafe spaces."

Auset also partnered with local community figures to create a food giveaway called "Feed The Hood," which is powered by donations.

South Los Angeles has seen a rise in black-owned cafes in the last few years, Eater LA reported. But the coronavirus outbreak could end it soon with many restaurants closing and depending on delivery services, The Los Angeles Times reported.

To prevent this, Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson, who represents a portion of South LA, created an emergency senior meals program providing funds to local businesses to cook and deliver meals to homebound seniors.

“South LA is experiencing a renaissance. Numerous small businesses have opened to address the lack of quality food options in our community and we couldn’t sit idly by and watch COVID-19 undo that progress," Harris-Dawson told USA TODAY, adding that the program provides access to healthy while keeping local businesses open.

Similar to SÜPRMARKT in South LA, Forty Acres Fresh Market in Chicago is delivering almost three dozen orders of fresh produce daily. Liz Abunaw founded the market in response to the lack of fresh and healthy food in underserved areas like Chicago's West Side.

Abunaw told USA TODAY they're also delivering to communities where people don't experience food insecurity but have a higher risk of getting COVID-19.

Customers can also purchase an extra box of groceries which the market donates to local churches, schools and social workers to give to families in need.

"For us, it's just being present, being affordable, being accessible and still giving people the quality and good food they deserve," Abunaw said.

A similar market in St. Louis, Missouri, is also delivering groceries in a truck that cofounder Jeremy Goss bought from the post office. The Link Market partnered with a church for a food and household giveaway with monetary and item donations from state officials and organizations. More than 350 families got the essential items, Goss told USA TODAY.

Goss, who is also a plastic surgery resident at Yale University, said it's not a surprise that COVID-19 is hitting communities most in need.

"Hunger in America does not look like starvation. It looks like obesity because if you don't have a grocery store where you live and you only have fast food restaurants available to you, that's where you go," he said.

Along with food deliveries, Goss partnered with several St. Louis restaurants to provide nutritious meals to healthcare workers while allowing restaurants to stay open. The initiative, "Food for the Frontlines," has received more than $10,000 in donations.

"I'm not from St. Louis but it feels like a second home to me," he said, "And as much as we can do to rally around the people who need it the most, then we'll do that."

Source: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2020/04/22/coronavirus-pandemic-makes-healthy-food-harder-find-some/5169249002/

News Related

ORTHER NEWS

Trump’s ‘mission accomplished’ moment is premature and deadly. We have not defeated COVID.

Desperate for crowds and adoration, Trump has put his most fervent supporters at risk of getting a deadly disease. Future historians will be astonished. Read more »

NFLPA president JC Tretter says NFL is putting season, players at risk with its coronavirus approach

NFL Players Association president JC Tretter said Tuesday the NFL is putting the 2020 season at risk with its coronavirus approach, calling on the league to better “prioritize player safety.” “Like many other... Read more »

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro says he tested positive for the coronavirus

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro says he has tested positive for COVID-19 after months of downplaying the virus’ severity. Bolsonaro confirmed the test results while wearing a mask and... Read more »

Venice Film Festival forges ahead amid COVID-19 pandemic with reduced lineup

The show will go on for the Venice Film Festival in September, but with a few modifications due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizers said Tuesday that they are pushing forward with plans for... Read more »

Amtrak offers buy-one, get-one promotion on its sleeper trains amid COVID-19 — with a catch

Amtrak wants you to have sweet dreams the next time you travel — so much so that it’s sweetening the deal on its sleeper “roomettes.” The rail service is offering a buy-one-get-one-free discount... Read more »

Florida teen treated with hydroxychloroquine at home before dying of COVID-19, report says

FORT MEYERS, Fla. – The family of a 17-year-old Florida girl who died last month from COVID-19 treated her symptoms at home for nearly a week before taking her to a hospital, a... Read more »

Mookie Betts worried MLB coronavirus testing woes could prevent him from ever playing for Dodgers

During nearly four months away from the game, Mookie Betts said he “stayed away from baseball to keep myself sane.” It’s not hard to understand why. The 2018 American League Most Valuable Player... Read more »

Tom Hanks doesn’t get ‘how common sense has somehow been put into question’ with coronavirus

Read more »

Can Gov. DeSantis force Florida schools to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic? Some school leaders seem doubtful.

PALM BEACH, Fla. — As concern about the state order spread online, some school leaders said: Not so fast. As Florida educators puzzle over how to start the new academic year, Gov. Ron... Read more »

Texas surpasses 200,000 coronavirus cases after 4th of July holiday weekend

AUSTIN, Texas – Texas reached 200,000 total COVID-19 cases Monday, just 17 days after crossing the 100,000 threshold, a figure that took the state nearly four months to hit. The grim milestone came... Read more »