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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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This three-part series on food deserts is brought to you by GOOD with the support of Naked Juice

The Woodlawn section of Chicago’s South Side is not technically one of the city’s 23 neighborhoods designated as a food desert. However, those who live in the neighborhood, where more than 30 percent of households live below the poverty level, will tell you a different story: the grocery stores that are within walking distance do not have fresh fruits and vegetables.The few that do may not be affordable, and it’s just as difficult to get healthy produce as it is in South Side neighborhoods, which are officially designated food deserts by the USDA. “My husband and I had been living in the neighborhood for 20 years, and we couldn’t find any stores that carried fresh produce to shop at,” says Connie Spreen, executive director of Experimental Station, a cultural community group in the neighborhood.

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Why There’s No Easy Solution to America’s Food Deserts

This three-part series exploring food deserts is brought to you by GOOD with support from Naked Juice. The notion of a desert in the midst of...


This three-part series exploring food deserts is brought to you by GOOD with support from Naked Juice.

The notion of a desert in the midst of America’s cities and towns may seem impossible—a mirage. But for 23.5 million Americans, it’s a daily reality. Residents in urban and rural areas alike can find themselves in food deserts in which there is a dearth of fresh, healthful groceries within a convenient proximity of their home. Although some researchers have challenged the existence of food deserts, politicians, policy-makers, and nonprofits are still attempting to understand and address the problem. The causes of such deserts are complex and wrapped up in larger socio-economic challenges endemic to low income, urban and rural areas.

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The Fact That Changed Everything: Adam Braun and Pencils of Promise

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This content is brought to you by GOOD, with support from IBM. Click here to read more stories from The Fact That Changed Everything series and here to read about other Figures of Progress.

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The Fact That Changed Everything: Gary White and Water.org

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The Future is Wow: Classrooms Wired for Learning

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