Everyone deserves access to healthy and affordable foods. Food access refers to a person’s ability to obtain healthy foods, shaped by availability and affordability. Food access plays an integral role in overall food security status, and is an important public health issue, as approximately 1 in 9 people in the United States were food insecure in 2018.
Various factors contribute to disparities in food access. These factors include spatial proximity to healthy food retailers, transportation, and food prices. Food access typically manifests in communities with poor economic indicators, including higher rates of unemployment, poverty, and lower homeownership, as well as in rural communities where transportation and proximity to healthy food is a challenge.
Various programs and policy initiatives can help address food access. For example, community-level responses to food access challenges can include farmers markets, community gardens, CSAs, food rescue agencies, school-based programs, and bringing healthy food retailers to underserved areas to help strengthen local food systems. Initiatives to strengthen federal nutrition programs such as SNAP, WIC, SNAP-Ed, and SNAP incentive programs can also help address food access through large-scale policy.