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Many Wyomingites Find Themselves Living in a "Food Desert"

March 1, 2012

LARAMIE, Wyo. - If your weekly trip to the grocery store is quite a trek, you are not alone. A new study finds that Wyoming suffers from "food deserts." That means residents must travel 10 miles or more to find a supermarket.

The Food Trust report says improving access to markets would improve health, as well as create jobs and revenue for communities. According to Food Trust program director Miriam Minon, people living in underserved counties eat fewer fruits and vegetables and are more apt to be overweight.

"Residents are likely to experience high rates of diet-related disease - things like diabetes and obesity."

Even when small communities do have a store, the report notes it's not always stocked with a variety of fresh and healthy foods. The study makes recommendations on how to help communities open and support local grocery stores.

Minon says a number of successful models pull together both private and public interests. One of the best examples of that is the Fresh Food Financing Initiative in Pennsylvania, which helps developers overcome some of the high initial investment costs, she says.

"The program has been able to get stores to open all across the state in previously underserved areas and to help existing grocers who are interested in expanding their offerings."

Minon says improving access to healthy food isn't a silver bullet to improve eating habits, but it is an important piece in dealing with obesity.

More information is available at www.thefoodtrust.org

Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - WY