For many, healthy food is miles away

A new poll from the Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota identified roadblocks to Minnesotans’ access to healthy food.


Fixing the “grocery gap.”

The poll showed:

  • Nearly half of Minnesotans surveyed said that not having a store nearby that sells healthy food impacts what they eat.
  • Most Minnesotans (73 percent) said difficulty finding healthy food on-the-go influences their decisions.
  • A majority of those polled (56 percent) don’t believe that all Minnesotans have access to healthy food, regardless of where they live or their socioeconomic background, while 16 percent are unsure.

See more details here.

The survey also found that the decline in the number of grocery stores serving smaller communities, especially in Greater Minnesota, influences what people buy. Fifty-five percent residents outside the Twin Cities say their food choices are at least somewhat influenced by a lack of stores nearby that sell healthy food. About 46 percent of people in the Twin Cities report similar challenges.

More than one-third of those surveyed said they must travel at least 10 minutes in order to shop at a full-service grocery store. Longer travel times are also more prevalent in Greater Minnesota, where 40 percent report traveling at least 10 minutes to shop at a grocery store, and in rural areas, where trips of more than 30 minutes are reported.

Minnesotans believe their communities should be part of a healthy solution. Nearly all of those surveyed (96 percent) say it is at least somewhat important for communities to increase access to affordable and healthy food.

Some efforts are already underway. The Minnesota Food Charter  identified barriers to healthy food access and recommended policy and systems changes to help resolve them. Initiatives like those underway at Lakeshirts Inc. in Detroit Lakes, and the formation of a new food co-op in Milan, Minn., demonstrate the type of community-driven solutions the Food Charter encourages.

Based in Eagan, The Open Door provides healthy food through its food shelves and Mobile Pantry sites, as well as its Mobile Lunch Box program, which offers healthy lunches and activities for children and families when school is not in session. The organization’s Garden To Table® program promotes improved access to fresh produce by providing garden plots, vegetable and herb seeds, plants, tools and compost to food shelf clients at no cost.