In several recent interviews with the news media, ACHI President and CEO Dr. Joe Thompson discussed our new analysis of food access issues in Arkansas.
“We found more than 1 in 4 census tracts in the state of Arkansas had more than 50% of their residents without access to healthy food options — a supermarket,” Thompson told KUAR.
ACHI analysts reviewed U.S. Department of Agriculture data from 2019, the most recent year available, to determine the prevalence of food deserts in the state. For this analysis, residents were classified as having low access to healthy food sources if they lived farther than 1 mile from the nearest large grocery store in an urban area or farther than 10 miles from the nearest large grocery store in a rural area.
The problem has likely worsened since 2019, according to Thompson.
“With the inflation, with gas prices being up, families that are on fixed incomes, particularly our seniors, they may not be able to afford to go get healthy options,” he said in an interview with KATV.
Thompson serves on the Governor’s Food Desert Working Group, which plans to produce a report by the end of this year that will recommend policy initiatives and funding opportunities to improve food access in the state.
“We may need to look at new models for rural parts of Arkansas and America, to say, ‘What is a reliable and affordable way to get good food distributed across our state?’” Thompson told 40/29 News.
See our news release.