On June 7, 2013
Just Harvest hosted
A Community Forum on the Food Desert Problem
Among cities of its size, Pittsburgh has the highest percentage of people residing in areas where they don’t have ready access to supermarkets – “food deserts.” For nearly half of our Pittsburgh neighbors (47%), the simple act of getting fresh food at a store is a huge difficulty. Just Harvest hosted a community forum to discuss this problem, which coincided with the release of a new report: A Menu for Food Justice: Strategies for Improving Access to Healthy Foods in Allegheny County. Written for Just Harvest by Zachary Murray during his term as an Emerson Fellow of the Congressional Hunger Center this past fall and winter, the report is a comprehensive assessment of the food desert status of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County’s most vulnerable communities.
We believe A Menu for Food Justice:
- definitively details the local food justice landscape, analyzing the accessibility of nutritious and affordable food;
- arms communities and policymakers with knowledge about how factors such as food access, food availability, and transportation have an impact on area residents;
- draws on local and national programs to lay a framework of policy recommendations for city and county officials, businesses, foundations, non-profits, and community leaders to pursue while improving food access throughout Allegheny County.
A key finding in the report is that “One size doesn’t fit all.” Real solutions need to fit specific neighborhood resources and circumstances. That is why we need community input.
Just Harvest hosted this community forum to release the report to the media and to convene community stakeholders—including faith-based organizations, local government, academia, labor, finance, and philanthropy—in a discussion of community solutions to the food desert problem. The event enabled representatives of various sectors of the community to share their perspectives on food access problems as well as how they think this report should inform efforts to make nutritious food available to all low-income households in the region.
Zachary’s research itself depended on a community effort that involved many grassroots partners and allies, including the Pittsburgh Food Policy Council, the Chatham University Food Studies Program, and the Pittsburgh Jewish Social Justice Roundtable.
Just Harvest aims to continue that effort in making sure these findings translate into sensible and coordinated action.
- The Jewish Chronicle, 6/12/13: Groups join forces to fight hunger
- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 6/10/13: Pittsburgh, Allegheny County food deserts located
- Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 6/8/13: 20 Allegheny County neighborhoods lack nearby full-service grocery stores