For decades, low-income urban and rural communities have faced limited opportunities to purchase healthy food. In the 1960s and 1970s, white, middle-class families left urban centers for homes in the suburbs, and supermarkets fled with them—taking jobs and tax revenues along with their offerings of healthy, affordable food. Low-income urban residents with limited transportation options did much of their shopping at small local stores that had limited selection and high prices. Rural communities, like underserved urban areas, confronted limited and highpriced food options, and did not benefit from the jobs and revenues a grocery store could bring. Advocates sought to increase access to healthy food, but for decades the problem seemed intractable. The poor paid more for their food and had fewer healthy, affordable options. There were few examples of successful strategies to improve access to healthy foods.
Disparities in access continue today, contributing to obesity and related health problems. In recent decades, obesity rates have risen dramatically. The good news, however, is that there are now many strategies being implemented across the country to address this issue. Many of these strategies highlight unique opportunities for health advocates, community residents, and policy-makers to partner with the private sector.