Despite Prince George’s County having one of the most affluent minority communities in the U.S., many residents still lack access to healthy food options.
Now, the Prince George’s County Food Equity Council aims to make the correlation between healthy foods options and wealth a thing of the past.
On Oct. 20, the food council held a special afternoon session during Bowie State University’s 7th annual Food Day Symposium, where officials posed questions to prospective county council candidates on how they would provide access to affordable food, all while advocating the preservation of farmland and healthy lifestyles.
“Neighborhoods in the Capitol Heights and Temple Hills area are considered food desserts, a place that lacks available grocery stores and healthy food options,” the food council said in a statement.
The session provided county council candidates with an opportunity to outline how they plan to ensure that residents “have access to healthy, affordable, sustainably produced, safe, and culturally appropriate food,” the food council said.
According to Healthgrove, a platform that provides nationwide data on conditions, doctors, facilities, nutrition and health insurance, Prince George’s County has a low percentage of residents with low access to grocery stores (26.7% vs. the national county rate of 19.7%), a high percentage of school children that qualify for free lunch (45.6% vs. 41.8%) but a very high median household income ($69,524 vs. $41,248.00).
“We’re told that eating fresh foods is key to a healthy lifestyle,” the food council said. “Yet, healthier foods are generally more expensive and, in some areas, hard to come by. In our area, despite it being one of the most affluent minority communities in the U.S., many of our neighbors lack access to healthy food options.”
In addition to the council questionnaire, interested participants were also given a chance to participate in the “Healthy Eating, Healthy Living: Using Food to Fight Diabetes” event, which included panels of experts focused on healthy diets as a strategy to prevent diabetes, an interactive lunchtime cooking lesson, and an informative lecture.
Established in 2013, the local independent food policy council for Prince George’s County works to significantly improve public health and the well-being of those in the county, particularly in communities that have been negatively affected by the current food system.