Nearly 20% of all Indianapolis residents live in a food desert, which is a low-income, urban area where it is difficult to access healthy foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables. Residents who live in a food-insecure area have to travel over one mile to get to a grocery store and are faced with limited access to healthy foods.
There are many health issues associated with consuming low-nutrient foods, like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and more. People living in food deserts and experiencing food insecurity are at a higher risk for these conditions, and as the pandemic persists, it has only become more crucial that everyone has access to healthy, nutritious food.
Nationally, eight of the ten counties with the highest food insecurity were at least 60% Black. In Indianapolis, nearly one third of Marion County’s Black residents live in a food desert. Many factors lead to African Americans experiencing a higher rate of food insecurity than other races, such as socioeconomic disparities and unequal education opportunities created by structural racism.
“Despite high rates of diet-related disease, 80% to 90% of a person’s health can be attributed to non-medical factors, often referred to as social determinants of health, which include, but are not limited to, food security, housing transportation, education, and employment,” states the National Academy of Medicine.
For example, the lack of transportation and lack of nearby grocery stores are what puts a community at risk of food insecurity. Low-income families often have to make the choice of paying for food or necessities, such as electricity, medical bills, clothing, and more.
As many suffer from the lack of access to healthy food, there are more Black families experiencing poverty and food insecurity compared to the general population, according to a survey report from the Indy Hunger Network. One of the first steps to helping is to raise awareness on resources for those living in food deserts.
Hunger relief programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), what is formerly known as food stamps, are reaching low-income communities, but many people on SNAP may not know where else to use SNAP outside of grocery stores, which may not be a convenient option while living in a food desert.
Since 2008, the Indy Winter Farmers Market offers a Triple-Match SNAP program that turns $20 SNAP into $60 to spend at the farmers market. The winter farmers market has the highest SNAP use in Indianapolis and is located at Riverside, which is considered a food-insecure area.
The Indy Winter Farmers Market is open every Saturday from 9am-12:30pm through April at The AMP at the 16 Tech Innovation District, 1220 Waterway Blvd.
Growing Places Indy also offers 50% off on purchases $10 and up for SNAP users at our summer farm stands and CSA program– all located in the Near Eastside or downtown Indy. Check back in the summer to see updated farm stand times and locations for this year on our website and social media!Click here to view an interactive map of low-income areas and their correlation with grocery stores in Indianapolis.