Healthy Choices: Not just for the fortunate.

Have you ever been to a grocery store in an under-served neighborhood?  It wasn’t long ago that I ran over to a store close to my office to grab some food choices for a client training session.  I was in the market for some healthier choices that people could munch on while they were learning skills to succeed at interviews and their jobs. I walked through all of the aisles, determined to find some “hidden” food choices that supported a healthier and still fulfilling decision making model.  As I walked through the aisles, it became very apparent to me that this store had dramatically fewer nourishing choices as it related to options available to the residents in the neighborhood.

I began to mentally compare my family’s location in a more affluent neighborhood in relation to what I was seeing in this neighborhood.  I came to the realization that even though this store had some choices that my family could purchase at our location, I was not able to make those same choices for those that my organization serves.  I began to wonder if this location would be considered a food desert, where most food choices are found at convenience stores and gas stations.

When I returned with my lackluster purchases that frankly, I was embarrassed to offer my hard working clients, I could not help but look up the definition of the “Food Desert.” The Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI) Working Group considers a food desert as a low-income census tract where a substantial number or share of residents has low access to a supermarket or large grocery store.

So how can you make healthier choices if those choices are not available? Some health care systems and restaurants are working on this problem by creating rooftop gardens. As an organization that serves those experiencing homelessness, this may very well be the next track to help provide healthier options to the families who haven’t had these options in the past. These ideas can help families to have a brighter future and a more self-sufficient lifestyle.

To learn more about HealthNet’s Homeless Initiative Program or to make a donation,  please visit

For more information on food deserts please click here.

Post by Matt Holland

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