Healthy Communities Count!
Easy Access to Healthy Foods
Food and Health
Eating a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables every day is one key to healthy living. Studies show that when people do not eat fresh fruits and vegetables they are more likely to have a number of health problems, such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and arthritis. Eating too many meals that are prepared or ready-to-eat is also bad for a person’s health. People who live in communities with grocery stores that sell fresh fruits and vegetables are less likely to be obese or have diabetes than people who live in areas with few grocery stores and many fast food choices.
Counting the number of stores that sell fresh food or produce in a specific area, or “food availability”, is one way to show how accessible fresh fruits and vegetables are to people living in that neighborhood. Measuring food availability along the Central Corridor is important because it helps community groups, public health workers, and city planners identify areas that may need more grocery stores with healthy food choices to encourage healthy diets.
Food and Income
The availability of fresh fruits and vegetables can be related to the income level of people in the community. Large grocery stores are usually found in neighborhoods where people with higher incomes live. Studies show that there are fewer grocery stores in low income areas. These grocery stores often have higher prices because there is less competition. Since low income areas may have fewer grocery stores and higher prices, people living nearby may eat more prepared food because it is more convenient and less expensive than fresh fruits and vegetables.
Counting Food Availability
To count food availability in a community, health researchers count the number of people that live within 500 meters of a grocery store compared to the number of people that live within 500 meters of a store that sells prepared meals. Five hundred meters is about 10 blocks or a 10-minute walk for most people.
What the Information Shows
Information from the cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul show there are 92 grocery stores and 364 stores that sell prepared meals in the Central Corridor. Sixty-four percent of people live within walking distance of a grocery store, and eighty percent of people live within walking distance to a store with prepared meals. (Click on map for a larger image.)
Printable information sheet, with map: Easy Access to Healthy Foods (PDF: 227KB/2 pages)
Click on the map below for a larger image
Data Source: Minnesota Department of Health,
Environmental Health Business and Finance Operations Unit