The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines a food desert as an area lacking assess to healthy-food options measured by distance to one or more grocery stores, as well as a person’s ability to access those food options, transportation and the average income of an area. According to 2015 data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 13.41 percent of the state population lives in U.S. Census tracts with low income and low access to healthy food. That’s nearly 250,000 people. For people in food deserts, driving to the next county to shop for groceries is already a burden. That burden becomes even greater for people making minimum wage, seniors on fixed income or families that can’t afford a car.
With the virus and the kinds of social distancing and regulations that are put into place and issues with businesses shutting down and not continuing to be sources of employment for people, this can only make the situation worse in food deserts, particularly for vulnerable populations.
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