What You Need To Know About DC’s Food Deserts

It’s hard to believe that just a few neighborhoods down from the White House are communities that are struggling against hunger. “Food hardship” and “food insecurity” are terms that unfortunately describe too many households in the district. If people don’t have access to adequate healthy food, they’ll become undernourished and suffer from poor health.

“Food Desert” refers to a geographic area where people have limited access to healthy food, according to The D.C. Policy Center. The district’s lack of food access is tied directly to its poverty, proximity to supermarket or grocery store, household income and access to transportation. Analysis of food insecurity in DC is difficult due to shifting demographics. Food programs are being launched to bridge the gap in needy city wards like Ward 7 & 8 — Which have the highest poverty rates and home to the most food deserts.

Per the D.C. Hunger Solutions, “One in seven District households is struggling against hunger, and while the nation’s federal nutrition programs have a wide reach in Washington, D.C., too many adults and children continue to slip through the nutrition safety net.”

Food Desert

Food deserts comprise about 11% of DC in neighborhoods like Anacostia, Barry Farms, Mayfair and Ivy City. Ward 8 contains the largest percentage of food deserts while Ward 7 contains the second largest. There are no food deserts in Ward 3 and 0.13 sq. miles in Ward 2.

Bridging the gap to secure food to these areas is critical for its residents. DC Central Kitchen with the help of DC Greens in a venture called Healthy Corners is creating sustainable healthy food access to the food deserts in the district. They provide fresh produce and healthy snacks at wholesale prices to low-income area stores in DC communities. The stores, in turn, pass on the affordable, below-market prices to consumers.

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Cecilia Mencia is a DC-based, multi-media journalist, editor, writer, and founder of DCtrending — a digital feature and news magazine focusing on stories with social and cultural impact in the nation’s capital