What's a Food Desert?

In a speech at Brinkley Middle School in Jackson, Mississippi, last week, first lady Michelle Obama said, “We've got to eliminate food deserts.”

What exactly is a food desert? According to Slow Food USA, food deserts are neighborhoods with inadequate access to fresh food. There is access to food through convenience stores or fast-food restaurants, but there is a lack of grocery stores with fresh produce sections and other sources of fresh food like farmers markets.

Here’s the complete quote that the first lady gave to the middle school students.

Do you know that there are a lot of kids who live in communities that don't have access to a grocery store or a farmers market or a place to buy fruits and vegetables? There are about 6.5 million kids who can't walk down the street and go to a grocery store because their communities don't have grocery stores. Well, part of "Let's Move" is trying to eliminate that, because we can't tell people to buy fresh food if there's no place to buy it, right? You know how hard it is for your parents if they have to get on a bus to go get a head of lettuce and they just came home from work and they have to get in a cab to go to a grocery store — that's hard and expensive for them, right? You all, if you've seen it, you know how hard it is. So we've got to make it easier. We've got to eliminate food deserts and make sure that there are more grocery stores and farmers markets in communities. So that's something that we're working on.

Michelle Obama’s plan is to eliminate food deserts completely in the next seven years. You can hear her talk about it in the video above.