New York Law School

Racial Justice Project Releases Food Deserts Report

The New York Law School Racial Justice Project and the Racial Justice Program of the American Civil Liberties Union have co-authored a report on food deserts —areas with either no access or limited access to fresh, affordable food—and the impact on communities of color.  The report is titled Unshared Bounty:  How Structural Racism Contributes to the Creation and Persistence of Food Deserts.  Approximately 23.5 million people in the U.S. live in low-income neighborhoods located more than 1 mile from a supermarket.  African Americans are half as likely to have access to chain supermarkets and Hispanics are a third less likely to have access to chain supermarkets than are whites.  Moreover, studies have found that minority communities are more likely to have smaller grocery stores carrying higher priced, less varied food products than other neighborhoods.

As discussed in the report, “the lack of supermarkets within low-income inner-city minority communities is not a demographic accident or a consequence of “natural” settlement patterns. Rather, government policies and their resulting incentives have played a significant role in shaping the segregated landscape of American cities.”  Unshared Bounty traces the evolution of food deserts and identifies the impact they have on the day-to-day lives of residents in neighborhoods without a supermarket. Next, the report considers not just the correlation between food deserts, race and income, but also examines the government policies and private practices that have contributed to the problem. Lastly, the report outlines approaches communities have used to address the scarcity of nutritious foods. It proposes that to have a long-term impact on food deserts, efforts must not just address the lack of healthy food options within a community, but also the underlying causes for the food disparities.

A full copy of the report can be found here: Food Deserts Report

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