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Rural and urban areas lack food resources, according to ACHI research

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Little Rock, Arkansas – A report demonstrating food deserts in some areas of the state was published on Thursday by the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement (ACHI).

According to studies conducted by Dr. Joe Thompson of ACHI, both rural and urban areas are found to be lacking in food resources. He claimed that in order to find healthier food options, consumers must travel further.

“With the inflation with gas prices being up, families that are on fixed incomes, particularly our seniors may not be able to afford to go get healthy options,” Thompson said. “They result having unhealthy options that cause them to have clinical problems.”

In the state, there are 1.7 groceries or produce vendors per 10,000 residents, which is less than the national average of 2.1, according to ACHI’s 2019 data. Food assistance programs including the Whole Food Stamp Program, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and Woman Infant & Children’s Program (WIC) need to be revised, according to Thompson.

“Those programs have been in place since 1969, it may be time for a refresh and a look at how we can use technology to more easily and successfully deliver healthy food to all Arkansans and all Americans,” he said.

The president of the John Barrow neighborhood association is Carolyn Heitman. According to her, she has lived in the region since 1949. Heitman admitted that occasionally she had to travel beyond the neighborhood to get groceries.

“I go to Bryant quite often because I don’t wanna go all the way out to Chenal or whatever,” Heitman said.

Heitman claimed that the closure of Kroger on Asher Avenue was a devastating blow to the neighborhood. She believes the store will be replaced by another.

“There needs to be a better line of communication between the city of Little Rock and the neighborhoods because not everyone has computers, not everyone cell phones, and not everyone has a television,” she said.

According to Thompson’s analysis of the survey, 38% of Arkansans are fat. He asserted that those people must have access to healthier options. Thompson added that due to supply chain problems, groceries are much more expensive, which disadvantages those who are already having a hard time.

Governor Hutchinson has a task team looking at dietary options for Arkansans, according to ACHI officials. Next week, they claimed, is the date of the meeting.

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