How food apartheid affects lower income communities

By: Haroon Yonis

A food apartheid is when a community has no access to healthy food or grocery stores in their area. Food apartheid are an underlying issue in many of our communities. It differs from a normal food desert, in that it specifically relates to race. The lack of healthy, available food is a concern we must address. 

Many of these communities lack access to reliable transportation, so when these lower-income communities are affected by a food apartheid, they are virtually powerless. As a result of this, they tend to resort to lower quality frozen foods that are sold at their local convenience stores. The effects of eating such food, over a long period of time, is extremely detrimental to the human body. This causes health issues to be more prevalent in these areas, and can include obesity, heart disease, cancer, and a plethora of other health issues. 

Food apartheids do not occur coincidentally, as they are racially motivated. Many of these areas have a large minority population, and as result of past discrimination, tend to have a lower overall salary then their higher-income counterparts. Grocery stores notice these statistics, and single out these marginalized communities, purposely not building their stores in these areas. As a result, this causes a lack of healthy and accessible foods in those regions.

An unfortunate local case of a food apartheid, is the Frogtown community that many Minnesota residents are familiar with. Grocery stores are almost non-existent in this area, while there are a multitude of convenience stores in the region. 

According to the Minnesota Compass website, the median income in the Frogtown area is $38,103, with approximately 69.4% of the population being minorities. The percentage of residents who have vehicles is quite low too, which makes it harder for these individuals to have access to the grocery stores in areas such as Midway and Highland. 

Many families realize this, and begin feeding their children foods that are riddled with GMO’s, chemicals, and concerning ingredients. Even if they desired to eat healthier, this simply wouldn’t be possible due to the area having almost no grocery stores.

So, how do we improve the accessibility of healthier foods in these marginalized communities?

The first step to solving this crisis is by acknowledging that it exists. Afterwards, we can find which areas are being purposely targeted, and start improving the flow of healthier foods in those highlighted areas.

Eventually, we can start building grocery stores in these areas, so families who lack reliable transportation can easily make the walk or bus ride to these stores. But in order for this to be possible, we as a community must come together and make this a reality.

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