Health problems that bedevil the urban poor such as diabetes and obesity have well-known causes but elusive cures. Public health professionals have known for a while that these disabilities are exacerbated by an abundance of inexpensive but fatty, high-calorie food in poorer communities. The challenge for city officials has been finding effective ways to create healthier food ecosystems in those communities in ways that harness the power of the free market to help people make choices that improve their quality of life. Here are five lessons that cities have learned:
1. The price has to be right.
Many people already know the health risks of eating poorly and would like to buy nutritious food – but if it were available and priced affordably. In Baltimore, one non-profit bringing fresh produce to corner stores has teamed with Loyola University’s food service company to get better deals on fruits and vegetables, lowering the cost for retailers and consumers.