Barriers of Local Food Access to Low Income Families

Local food can have many great benefits to both the individual and the community as a whole. However, the unfortunate fact of the matter is no one is on equal footing, therefore equal access to great things does not exist. Those who live in low income environments have many hurdles to overcome when it comes to access to local foods.

The first and most apparent problem for low income is a lack of finances to afford  the cost of local and healthy living. For many families, the first thing cut from a budget is healthy food, instead opting for cheaper and easier to access alternatives. Becoming full becomes the primary focus and nutrition is thrown to the wayside. Fruits and vegetables can sometimes be bought at a local farmers market for decent prices, but continuously buying cheap and local foods throughout the year and having a complete and balanced diet is difficult and can become quite costly.

Transportation can become a huge barrier of access. Gas is costly for those who can accord vehicles and bus systems can be unintuitive and difficult to use. Many areas of low income have no easy access to even major supermarkets within walking distance and require other modes of transportation to. Quick Marts become a common occurrence for food because of this. It's easier to pay a little more money and get food without making a two hour trek to buy groceries. 

Low income families often have two working parents and multiple jobs, vastly limiting available hours for food preparation. Creating a variety of healthy meals from local, raw foods takes significantly more time to both learn to create the meals and also prepare them. Those with less time have more pressure to make food within their time budget and will opt for something like Hamburger Helper instead of creating pasta dish from scratch, or they'll buy a 2 liter of soda instead of juice with no easy access or time to head to a store to buy some.

These are only a few of many reasons it is difficult for those in the low income bracket to have access to healthy, local foods. It is important for those in low income situations to have access to these foods as it's beneficial both for them as individuals and the community. What can we as a community do to help those in need of options for healthier and local foods?

If you are curious about this subject and would like to read more on it, visit http://www.organicconsumers.org/.

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