Promoting Healthy Food Access in an Urban Food Desert in a Baltimore City Neighborhood

A food desert is an urban or rural location which lacks access to fresh fruits, vegetables, and other nutritious foods due to a lack of grocery stores. In the state of Maryland, 12.7 percent of residents are food insecure, which is comparable to the national average. In Baltimore City, 23.8 percent of residents are food insecure, and one quarter of city residents live in food deserts. The lack of access to healthy food can result in diet-related health conditions such as overweight and obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and other conditions. Establishing community gardens in urban food deserts helps to improve the food environment and increase access to vegetables and fruits. This article describes the process of distributing United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) – National Institute for Food and Agriculture People’s Garden Grant funds within the Cherry Hill neighborhood located in South Baltimore, Maryland. The article also describes the program’s reach and the change in access to fresh produce as a result of the People’s Garden Grant funds. Cherry Hill is a USDA-designated urban food desert. In 2011, the 1.5-acre Cherry Hill Urban Garden was established within the Cherry Hill community. In 2011, the USDA awarded a People’s Garden Grant to establish school and community gardens in Cherry Hill, to engage the community in healthy gardening activities, to build partnerships, and to create opportunities for economic development related to urban agriculture. With these funds, community organizations were invited to apply for micro-subgrant awards. Using grant documents, attendance sheets, and GIS analysis, results indicate that five new gardens were established, ninety-six residents participated in cooking classes, nineteen youth were trained in urban agriculture, and eleven new partnerships were developed between the fourteen awarded applications. The new gardens increased physical access to fresh fruits and vegetables as 100 percent of residents lived within one mile of a garden and 90 percent of residents lived within one half mile of a garden.

Coping Strategies Among Food Insecure Households in a Sugarcane Growing Belt in Western Kenya

Food production in Mumias, Kenya has been declining over the years and so has food security. The decline in food production resulting in food shortages particularly among sugarcane farmers has affected their welfare, socioeconomic conditions, and health. Despite the renewed Kenyan government efforts to revitalize the Agriculture sector, the annual crop and food situation reports indicate that the region experiences food scarcity during certain months in the year. A descriptive survey was carried out on a randomly selected sample of 354 participants in Lubinu, Lusheya, and Makunga locations. Coping strategies identified include: a reduced number of meals consumed in a day, skipping food consumption for an entire day, borrowing food from a friend or a relative, reducing the size of meals, adults in the household not consuming food to allow children to have it, swapping consumption to less preferred or cheaper foods, selling charcoal or firewood to get food, and sending some of their household members to eat in neighbors’ homes. Food insecurity results in chronic malnutrition due to a continuously inadequate diet. This in turn leads to reduced physical capacity, lowered productivity, stunted growth, and inhibited learning. High food prices have also contributed to increased levels of food deprivation.

US Dietary Shifts and the Associated CO2 Emissions from Farm Energy Use

In this article, we explore the relationship between dietary composition, on-farm energy use, and CO2 emissions. Then, we estimate the cost of these emissions for the US diet relative to a Japanese, Greek, French, or Finnish diet. To carry out the analysis, we use four main data inputs: the proportions of per-capita caloric intake from plant-based and animal-based products for each diet, the products’ energy efficiencies, CO2 emissions per calorie, and total calories. We consider two scenarios: one in which dietary composition varies and the second in which both composition and calories vary with the respective levels in each diet. Our findings suggest that a shift to the Greek diet reduces CO2 emissions by 5.5 percent when daily caloric intake stays at the US level. This result suggests that the types of animal products being consumed matter, not just the amount, since the Greek diet has a higher proportion of animal-based products than the Japanese diet. When US daily caloric intake varies, the Japanese diet is the least polluting and reduces CO2 emissions by 29.2 percent due to the relatively fewer calories consumed in the Japanese diet. Alternatively, the French and the Finnish diets have a higher share of animal-based products and produce more CO2 emissions in both dietary scenarios. The social cost of the CO2 emissions associated with producing the current US diet ranges from $4.51 to $90.27 per capita, or 0.48 percent to 9.53 percent of farm cash receipts. Switching to either the Greek or the Japanese diet would result in lower costs in both of the scenarios we consider whereas the French and Finnish diets increase the social cost of CO2 emissions.