Jensen discusses ‘food deserts’ on River to River

Dr. Helen Jensen, head of Food Nutrition Policy at CARD recently discussed food deserts—areas where residents have limited or no immediate access to healthy foods—on Iowa Public Radio’s River to River.

According the USDA about 13.5 million Americans live in food deserts, including several identifiable places in Iowa, one of the nation’s top food producers. While food deserts are typically viewed as a low-income problem, they certainly are not exclusive to those areas, occurring in urban, suburban, and rural areas across the nation.

Jensen told River to River host Ben Kieffer that food deserts can develop based on a multitude of reasons—demographics, loss of population in rural areas, and lack of profitability may all drive a company to close a store, forcing residents to travel for access to healthy foods. The problem can be compounded for residents who also lack access to suitable transportation as well.

The full episode of River to River can be heard here:

The USDA has a food desert map that can be accessed here:

(Released January 2013)