Arkansas’s Food Desert Problem

January 19, 2023

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    ACHI Staff

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    In his latest column for the Healthcare Journal of Arkansas, ACHI President and CEO Dr. Joe Thompson discusses the prevalence in Arkansas of food deserts — areas where residents do not have convenient access to healthy, affordable food options.

    Thompson writes that according to an analysis by ACHI, in 1 in 4 census tracts in Arkansas, more than 50% of residents had low access to healthy food sources in 2019 — and the problem likely has grown worse since then because of rising food and gas prices and recent grocery store closures. He notes that in many Arkansas neighborhoods, the only options for food shopping are gas stations and convenience stores, which typically stock few or no healthy food items.

    Thompson served last year on the Governor’s Food Desert Working Group, a panel convened by former Gov. Asa Hutchinson to study the problem of food deserts in the state and recommend ways to address it. In his column, Thompson summarizes the group’s recommendations, which can be found in full in its report.

    For more information on food deserts in Arkansas, see our explainer.

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