Good news out of Portland last week: local grocery chain New Seasons will open a new store smack dab in the middle of a North Portland food desert.
Food deserts are areas that lack access to fresh, healthy, affordable food. (In urban areas, the USDA defines a food desert as an area where more than one-third of a low-income census tract’s population is more than a mile from a supermarket or large grocery store.)
The neighborhood is—for better or worse—rapidly gentrifying, and a new grocery store (especially one with strong sustainability principles) helps bring an end to a drought of healthy, fresh food. The city’s been trying to attract grocers into food deserts by offering incentives like reduced fees or abated taxes.
In the same vein, I stumbled upon a Kickstarter project for a mobile food market in Portland that would specifically cater to food deserts by offering healthy food. By vending in different areas with little access to healthy food at set times, they hope to relieve some of Portland’s food deserts. They even propose selling bagged meals, which include all the ingredients (plus a recipe) needed to make dinner.
Merely providing fresh, healthy food is no guarantee that people will start eating better—but it does go a long way toward making this neighborhood a more complete, walkable community.