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  • Writer's pictureDishon Edward

Eliminate food desert by design


Food deserts are areas where very few grocery stores exist, and the ones that do exist often offer unhealthy foods. In fact, according to a recent study by the Trust for America's Health, nearly 25 million people in the U.S. live in food deserts—and many of them are children and low-income families who rely on federal nutrition assistance programs such as SNAP or WIC for food purchases. That's why it's so important to design cities with healthy food access built into their very infrastructure from day one! Designing with healthy foods at every turn will make sure our communities have access to a variety of high-quality options: it will support our health goals and help us improve quality of life right away. Here are some ways you can play your part in eliminating food deserts by design:

Design to accommodate healthy food options in existing spaces.

  • Design for healthy food options in existing spaces.

  • Food deserts are bad for the community, and they can be a drain on local economies. If you have an opportunity to design a business or commercial space that features healthy options, take it! It will not only help you create a better experience for your customers but also benefit the people who live nearby by strengthening their relationship with local businesses. And since many people with limited access to fresh vegetables and fruit live within walking distance from restaurants serving these foods (and even supermarkets), having them available at affordable prices is ideal!

Create new public spaces for healthy eating.

Public spaces are the beating heart of any community. They're where people congregate and interact, they serve as hubs for public life, and they can bring people together in unexpected ways.

A public space that encourages healthy eating is an excellent way to create a sense of place--a sense of belonging--and help residents feel like they belong in their neighborhood. Designing such spaces requires thinking about how they should be used: What activities will occur there? How will people access them? How accessible should these spaces be? And what opportunities might exist for physical activity within them (if any)?

Implement zoning restrictions and incentives to improve access to healthy foods.

Zoning restrictions and incentives are two tools that can be used to improve access to healthy foods in food deserts. Zoning laws can be used to ensure that healthy food options are available near public transit, in areas where there are few other options, or even within one block of an existing store. Incentives for business owners include tax breaks or grants for building new stores, providing free space around existing businesses (e.g., parking lots), or providing free advertising for new restaurants in disadvantaged communities that lack reliable transportation routes into the city center (see Chicago's Healthy Corner Store Program).

Zoning restrictions can also encourage the creation of public spaces for healthy eating by limiting certain uses such as fast food restaurants or markets when they're next door from schools or playgrounds; this helps prevent children from being exposed to unhealthy foods when they go outside during recess periods--something many parents worry about with their kids playing outside after school hours!"

Foster inter-generational equity by expanding access and education about healthy food options for all demographics.

  • Education: The first step in addressing food deserts is to increase the level of education about healthy food options and encourage people to make healthier choices. As a community, we can do this by creating educational opportunities for all ages, especially children.

  • Access: To make it easier for families in low-income areas to access healthy foods, cities need to create incentives for grocery stores and restaurants that don't currently serve these populations (like healthy produce). This can be done through tax credits or zoning changes that allow new businesses into neighborhoods where there are no grocery stores or restaurants--or both!

Designing for healthy foods at every opportunity is just good business practice

Designing for healthy foods at every opportunity is just good business practice. It's also a great way to ensure the health of your community, and the success of your business.

Designing for healthy foods at every opportunity is just good design practice. Designers have a responsibility to create products that are not only functional but also aesthetically pleasing--and sometimes, there isn't much room between those two goals! But when an object is beautiful and functional simultaneously (or even if it's one or the other), it can become more user-friendly than anything else in its class; this means less time spent by users trying to figure out how something works--and more time spent enjoying themselves with their new purchase! And let's be honest: who doesn't want more time doing what they love?


We hope this article has given you some ideas for how to make your community healthier, happier and more productive. It’s not an easy task, but it is possible—and we believe that the benefits are well worth the effort.

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