I live in East Nashville, which has quickly become one of the most gentrified areas of the city. There are houses that are being sold for close to $500,000 on the same block with Section 8 housing. The dichotomy of this extends beyond the property values to something more essential – food. A food desert is defined as any census tract that isn’t within half-mile to a mile of a full-service grocery store or supermarket and are serviced instead by convenience and corner stores.
In East Nashville, the closest grocery store to the low income housing is a natural food market with prices geared towards the upper and middle income families that have moved into the neighborhood. The closest chain supermarket is about two miles away and due to the nature of Nashville’s public transit, would take four buses for a return trip. That leaves two convenience stores that are at least six blocks in either direction and neither carries a selection of fresh vegetables or fruit.
The solution to the issue of food deserts is multifaceted and requires not just access to affordable, fresh fruit and vegetables but education on how to prepare quick and meals using these items.
A friend of mine lives near Scranton PA and refers to his surrounds as “Food Jail.” Food Jail is where there are restaurants, even high end restaurants, where the food is so awful and bad it is like eating prison food. No one in Scranton knows how to make a rib-eye steak less than burned/well done, no one knows how to make a hoagie, sub, sandwich, and they actually LIKE something called Old Forge Pizza where they put slices of american cheese on the ‘za. People. Like. That.
I’ve told my friend he needs to open a restaurant with good food, and he said it doesn’t matter — no one will eat there because the food isn’t AWFUL and that is what they are so used to.
Your title made me think of Food Jail. While there isn’t a Food Desert there, it does seem like there is nowhere to eat… or get good food.