When we heard about the opening of a Save-A-Lot Food Store, we knew that it was a BIG DEAL.
Well, it all has to do with deserts, buses, and diabetes. So keep reading.
One Person's Annoyance is Another Person's Luxury
I don’t know about you, but I’m not a fan of grocery shopping. It’s one errand that I just don’t look forward to.
But what I don’t often realize or appreciate is that grocery shopping is actually a luxury that many of our neighbors in Dallas don’t have. Not only do I have a car that makes it easy to run to the store anytime I want, I’m also surrounded by grocery stores of every kind. I’ve got a Tom Thumb in walking distance, a Trader Joe’s down the street, and a Whole Foods, Central Market, and another Tom Thumb – all within a 5-minute drive!
As I’ve learned more about the issues of poverty in our city, I’ve discovered that our neighbors in urban areas – specifically lower income neighborhoods – have little to no access to affordable, healthy, fresh food. These areas are known as “food deserts.” There are no grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and other healthy food providers within a reasonable distance.
The Reality of a Food Desert
For residents in food deserts, it typically takes a 2- to 3-hour roundtrip bus ride to get to a grocery store – which means frozen foods aren’t even an option. So instead of spending the time and money to make these trips, many of them rely on the really unhealthy food available at local convenience stores, liquor stores, or fast food joints. The result? Cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes – the list goes on.
How widespread is this problem? Approximately 36% of Dallas zip codes are considered food deserts. The number of Dallas residents who live in these food deserts? 700,000 – with 245,000 of those being children.
The Oasis of a Grocery Store
So when we heard about the opening of a Save-A-Lot Food Store in the Highland Hills neighborhood of Oak Cliff, we knew that it was a BIG DEAL for the residents and something worth celebrating. For the first time in nearly eight years, people in Highland Hills can buy fresh food, including fruits and vegetables. The Save-A-Lot will serve more than 30,000 people within a two-mile radius.
While the City of Dallas continues to look for solutions to the food desert problem, there are several ministries and organizations that are also working diligently to serve these communities.
For example, Bonton Farms operates an urban farm in Bonton (a food desert) to provide healthy food, jobs, and community development. Brother Bill’s Helping Hand in West Dallas offers a weekly “grocery store” for neighbors in their area. And the North Texas Food Bank works with numerous organizations throughout our region, to make sure people living in food deserts get better access to healthy food.
So the next time you and I make that dreaded trek to the grocery store, let’s remember what a privilege it really is – and think about how we can help our neighbors in need.
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