Detroit Community Coalition Works to Tackle City's 'Food Desert' Problem

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Detroit Community Coalition Works to Tackle City's 'Food Desert' Problem

In an effort to bring citizens of the city of Detroit a healthy grocery alternative, offering fresh, quality products at fair prices, a coalition of groups from the business, development, health, medical, labor, social justice, agriculture, ecology, political and concerned citizenry sectors are working to develop strategies to create a community-based grocery store.

Dubbed the M.O.S.E.S. Supermarket Taskforce, the coalition has brought to the forefront the importance of recognizing and assisting families living in many areas of Detroit in what have been designated as a "food desert," or areas with no or distant grocery stores and limited access to nutritious food options.

In related news, a new study in the March-April issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion finds that the presence or absence of grocery stores, food markets and convenience stores in Detroit neighborhoods influences how many fruits and vegetables its local residents consume daily.

The study suggests that independent grocery stores can improve access to healthy foods in areas where supermarket chains choose not to venture. Having a large grocery store in the neighborhood boosted the average fruit and vegetable intake by 0.69 servings per day.

The amount of increase didn't differ between African-Americans and whites, but Latinos with a large local grocery store ate 2.2 more servings daily than did African-Americans.

Although chain supermarkets were scarce, large independent grocery stores were more common. "The results suggest that large grocery stores may be important nutritional resources in neighborhoods and extends previous research that has demonstrated similar effects of chain supermarkets," lead author Shannon Zenk, Ph.D., an assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Nursing was quoted as saying.

The presence of a convenience store in the neighborhood was associated with lower consumption of fruits and vegetables among Latinos, according to Zenk.