Is it Really About Food Deserts?

food desert
by Wendy Jeffries, Executive Director, TasteWise Kids
In our work, we frequently find students and families just don’t know what to do with fresh foods. So it was heartening to see that a recent study from New York University, Stanford University, and the University of Chicago about low-income families and food access found the same thing:
“The biggest difference in what we eat comes not from where we live per se, but from deeper, more fundamental differences in income and, especially, in education and nutritional knowledge, which shape our eating habits and in turn impact our health .”

One statistic from this study stood out specifically to us: “We find that exposing low-income households to the same availability and prices experienced by high-income households reduces nutritional inequality by only 9% .” In other words, just improving access to higher quality and/or healthier foods, doesn’t do much.
So how can we help create lasting change for these families? Food education and the ability to try new foods. Think about it- we all are skeptical to spend money on foods we haven’t tried, right? So we need to create opportunities to try new foods.
This is exactly what we are doing at TasteWise Kids in programs like our Days of Taste program. Kids get to try produce right from a farm, learn how to mix ingredients to make a farm fresh salad, and then are encourage to try it with our “two bite” rule. Then to help extend this learning, we send students home with a Take Home Salad kit so their families can share in the experience. What happens, families share with us that “I never thought my kid would eat salad! or that they would like it without ranch dressing.”
Over this Thanksgiving holiday, take a moment to think about how you have learned to appreciate various foods and the importance of food in your family.
Help more kids and families learn about making healthy food choices.