Bora Chang


Voices From a Food Desert: Bayview-Hunters Point, San Francisco, CA

voices from a food desert in a San Francisco neighborhood

By most measures, San Francisco is experiencing boom times. According to the 2010 U.S. Census median household income is $72,947, and it ranks fourth in the country for highest cost of living. But San Francisco’s bounty is not distributed evenly, and this disparity is apparent as you cross Highway 101 into the section of the city known as Bayview-Hunters Point. This four-square mile corner in the southeastern part of San Francisco has a median household income of $46,025,with one in five individuals living below poverty level. More pointedly, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has classified this slice of the city as a food desert, which are defined as low income areas with limited access to healthy, affordable foods.

This designation doesn’t mean that residents of Bayview-Hunters Point can’t find local restaurant and markets. On Third Street, the area’s main commercial strip, there is a Taco Bell/KFC combo, a McDonald’s and Walgreens; at Third and Donner Avenue, there’s a recent and welcome addition: Fresh & Easy, a chain grocery store that sells fresh produce. So it’s clear that the term food desert doesn’t paint a complete picture of this food landscape.

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