One in seven Chicagoans lacks easy access to healthy food

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One in seven Chicagoans lacks easy access to healthy food

Mari Gallagher Research & Consulting Group today released the 2011 Chicago Food Desert Drilldown, which provides new analysis and maps of current Food Desert conditions.

While the Food Desert has declined nearly 40 percent over the past five years since the firm’s original 2006 landmark study, serious health and retail challenges persist, Gallagher said. The Drilldown provides details including:

  • Nearly 384,000 Chicagoans live in food deserts.
  • 70 percent are African American.
  • More than 124,000 are children.
  • Nearly 70,000 households are headed by single women with children.
  • 40,000 households do not own cars.

Based on the Drilldown, Gallagher said the target date to eliminate the Chicago Food Desert completely should be 2015, as more and more grocers have announced plans to enter the Food Desert and strategic data can identify the highest impact sites. The firm will repeat the analysis every six months beginning in early 2012 until this is accomplished.

Gallagher also stressed that over $880 million from the USDA Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP – formerly known as Food Stamps), flowed through Chicago in 2010, and that many of the Food Desert SNAP stores are “fringe” meaning that they sell very little if any healthful food.

“SNAP is a vital program, but we need to both enforce and raise the standards,” Gallagher said. “Especially at a time when budgets are being slashed everywhere, we must ensure that SNAP promotes good food, public health, and is an economic development engine.”

Gallagher’s original Chicago report found statistically significant relationships between Food Desert conditions and more premature diet-related death after controlling for other key factors. That report motivated Congressman Bobby Rush to enter Food Desert language into the Farm Bill and helped popularize the term Food Desert nationally.

Visit to download the report.

Mari Gallagher Research and Consulting Group has enjoyed a national reputation for diverse, high impact projects across the United States. Our expertise includes quantitative and qualitative research projects; financial services, housing, community development, community planning, workforce issues, the economy, immigration, and community health; commercial site assessments and hands-on redevelopment consulting; business strategies; mapping; and facilitation and public forums.

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