New Report From The Emerging ChangeMakers Network Identifies Communities in Alabama Without Access to Healthy, Fresh and Affordable Foods

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A new report released today highlights areas across Alabama where increasing access to healthy, fresh and affordable foods would make the biggest impact.

“Reducing the number of communities with limited or no access to healthy foods in the state of Alabama will help families raise healthy children and build economically stronger communities.”

A new report released today highlights areas across Alabama where increasing access to healthy, fresh and affordable foods would make the biggest impact.

The report, “Fresh Food for All: Improving Access to Fresh Food in Alabama,” was authored by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Wealth Creation Clinic and Emerging ChangeMakers Network (“ECN”), a Mobile-based organization that seeks to assist emerging leaders to make positive changes in economically challenged communities.

Using a combination of zip code and census tract data, the ECN report has identified well over 140 communities in Alabama that lack access to healthy, fresh and affordable foods, areas that are popularly referred to as “food deserts” or “areas of food imbalance.” People living in areas of food imbalance are more likely to have lower cognitive functioning, lower productivity, increased rates of obesity, and a higher rate of diet-related disease and death, the report finds.

ECN is partnering with VOICES for Alabama’s Children, the American Heart Association, and more than 40 Alabama-based organizations to increase the amount of private and public funding available to grocers and other food retailers who agree to move into areas that currently lack access. In addition to providing healthy foods to families that need it the most, the new stores would stimulate the local economy, provide jobs, and improve real estate values for the entire community.

The report features a series of 8 different maps that use a combination of supermarket sales, income data and diet-related disease to show areas that need more grocery stores.

“The Fresh Food For All report makes clear the need for more access to fresh, healthy and affordable foods across Alabama,” said Jessica Norwood, ECN Founder and Director. “Reducing the number of communities with limited or no access to healthy foods in the state of Alabama will help families raise healthy children and build economically stronger communities.”

“So many Alabamians and children from median-level and low income areas are being affected by limited access to healthy living,” said Norwood. “This is why it is critical for communities to start rallying with passion, intention, and diligence to gain access to fresh, healthy and affordable foods.”

To read the full ECN report, visit http://emergechange.org/resources/healthy-foods-access/.

Jessica Norwood is an advocate and frequent speaker on community investing and development, emerging leadership, voting rights, and rural wealth creation. She is a lifelong Fellow of the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University and Southern University College of Business, as well as the Political Power Fellow of the Hip Hop Archive at the DuBois Institution of Harvard University.

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