What was I thankful for late Wednesday afternoon as I was making my long annual Thanksgiving journey to the deep recesses of rural Arkansas? Three things:
1. That I remembered to stop by that Whole Foods in Little Rock for supplies. Decent grocery stores are hard to find where I was going.
2. That I was still picking up a clear signal from Little Rock public radio when Marketplace from American Public Media hit the airwaves.
3. That all the kids were asleep so that I could actually hear this report on Rural Food Deserts.
Food deserts are a well-documented and unfortunately all too prevalent phenomenon in our country. A food desert can be urban, suburban or in this case rural. Food desert studies are common collectors of dust on the shelves of community and economic developers across the U.S. Anyone can point a food desert out, but few people know how to eradicate them. Onaga, KS appears to be an exception (or at least they are actually getting an inspirational effort off of the ground). And the Onaga solution illustrates the power of the public/private partnership.
Whether your community is urban, suburban or rural you are likely to have areas of lower accessibility to quality food – if not a full-blown food desert. As you work towards a solution I would invite you to review this webinar which highlights how the public sector is utilizing customer analytics methodologies and consumer data to foster private sector partnerships that strategically improve access to quality food in these underserved communities: http://bxtn.co/16w