Within cities, residents face stark disparities in their access to fresh, healthy produce, with low-income communities often the most affected by this limited access. Inequitable access to food perpetuates poor health outcomes among low-income populations and undermines efforts to improve public health and promote community. The increase in diet-related diseases such as diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and some cancers have put us on a path to change modern history: many children born today will have a shorter life expectancy than their parents. In addition to nutritional and health impacts, the flow of food dollars out of some regions represents a significant loss for local economies. Our small farmers have been pushed to the limit of their livelihood.
This report by COWS’ Mayors Innovation Project looks at bright spots of innovation, where local policies promote and increase residents’ access to healthy food. While there is no single solution to address the problem of unequal access to affordable, healthy food, there are a range policy strategies that can help develop local food capacities, enhance public health, and improve urban economies.