Research shows food deserts and food swamps are abundant in minority neighborhoods. A food desert is an area more than two miles or 15 minutes away from a grocery store. In food deserts, residents are troubled with having to find affordable healthy food. With few supermarkets or farmer’s markets in the area, it’s easier to find more junk food options than fresh fruits and vegetables. A food swamp includes a food desert and a high density of stores and restaurants that offer high-calorie fast food and junk food. In food deserts and swamps, it is cheaper and easier to get a Big Mac meal than to grab a quick and healthy meal choice such as a soup and or salad.
The Center for Black Health & Equity supports all communities to have access to fast food restaurant menu disclosure warning labels on single item foods or combination meals that are in excess of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA). This ingredient has a direct impact on blood pressure and heart disease, and reducing our sodium levels will reduce our risk of developing these health problems.
While the FDA has provided guidance for an overall sodium reduction in prepared and processed foods,
The Center believes the suggested number is not low enough for African Americans. African Americans are already at risk due to other factors such as stress and systemic racism, so excess sodium will only increase the risk of heart disease.
The current DGA for sodium is 2,300 mg per day; this equals about a teaspoon of table salt. An ideal limit is no more than 1,500 mg per day for most adults, especially individuals with high blood pressure. Reading nutrition labels and having access to warning labels helps consumers to make healthier food choices.
The Center also supports communities to have access to Healthy Retail which includes having access to fresh produce, whole grains, legumes, lean protein, low-fat dairy, and healthy beverages. We also support having access to a healthy checkout area at the grocery store. Many times in the checkout lane, we make impulsive buys. Communities of color should have choices and not be manipulated with excessive promotion at the checkout area and throughout the store to buy foods that are high in sugar, fat, and salt. Food & Nutrition equity is having the same access that white communities have to sufficient grocery stores and farmer's markets, promotion of healthier choices, and affordable pricing.