Food Insecurity a Growing Problem in Louisville

Supermarket closings have turned parts of the city into food deserts. As a result, residents lack access to fresh food and suffer health and economic consequences.

January 18, 2019, 10:00 AM PST

By Camille Fink

Louisville Supermarket

w.marsh / Wikimedia Commons

Bailey Loosemore writes that food insecurity in Louisville, Kentucky, is affecting more people, particularly the city’s low-income and most vulnerable residents. In 2015, 44,000 Louisville residents did not have the transportation or financial resources they needed to get healthy, affordable food, and the problem has spread as grocery stores across the city have closed down.

As a result, residents spend time and money traveling to and from stores in other areas. If they cannot reach a store, they have to purchase food from a discount or convenience store or go hungry.

The lack of access to fresh food leads to an increase in chronic health problems and healthcare costs, part of a cycle people fall into when their options are limited, says Loosemore:

First, a food-insecure person is forced to make unhealthy choices if they want to eat regularly, often turning to cheaper, high-calorie foods when healthier items aren't available. A reliance on unhealthy food leads people to develop diet-related illnesses, such as diabetes and obesity. And in turn, people can become unable to work — further restricting their food budget.

Smaller, independent grocery stores have been replaced by chain stores that favor locations where they can put in supersized stores that turn over bigger profits. "For residents with cars and credit cards, the larger stores offer a one-stop-shop for everything from freshly sliced deli meats to packaged meal kits. But for residents without transportation, a trip to the grocery can become a daylong effort," reports Loosemore.

She notes that food banks and community health organizations are trying to fill in the gaps by identifying residents struggling with food insecurity and connecting them with resources.

Thursday, January 10, 2019 in Louisville Courier Journal

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