Food Desert \ˈfüdˈ dĕz•ərt\ (n.):

an area, typically with low-income residents, that has significantly limited access to affordable and nutritious food.

Food deserts are characterized by a lack of supermarkets which decreases residents' access to whole foods, fresh protein sources, such as poultry, fish and meats, and fresh fruits and vegetables. Instead, residents are partial to convenience stores that provide less expensive, processed, sugar and fat-laden foods.

There is no question that our community faces food security challenges. According to a 2014 study, 18.1% of the county (28, 940 people) was food insecure, making it the most food insecure county in the state. Feeding America (FA) calculates that $13.7 million in additional funding would be required to provide the residents with sufficient, donated food to meet minimum standards annually.

Our community lacks adequate education, jobs, healthy food access, and housing, with few credible solutions or opportunities for improvement. As a result, community members are disengaged and skeptical of change. Trust is an issue. Our goal as Project RALLY is to change these negative perceptions of our community by way of Respect, Accountability, Love, Leadership, and Youth.

A part of our healthy food awareness and healthy eating campaign is the task of reeducating newer generations. The reality is that most of us live in an area that has significantly limited access to grocery stores and prevents most of us from eating a healthy diet.

Wyandotte County Residents

As of January 2017, more than 30% of Wyandotte County residents do not eat at least 1 serving of fruit or vegetables, daily. While there are some residents that live close to supermarkets, over 30% of those residents purchased food but didn’t have the funds to buy more.

Most inhabitants are aware of their need to eat healthy, but when fast food options are so inexpensive and accessible, the 1,300-calorie burger doesn’t sound so bad. However, this illustrates how 13% of residents have been diagnosed with diabetes as of 2015, compared to the state at 10%. The concern is that our county is already above normal weight, with 76% of the population either overweight or obese. Our perception of healthy food in our community must change. Project R.A.L.L.Y will help be the voice in that change; we feel we are measured by it. We are focusing on the disparities as areas to treat community members in Wyandotte County.

Wyandotte County residents spend at least $450 million (conservatively estimated) each year buying food sourced outside the region. This spending represents a significant market for food that Wyandotte County farmers and food processors could strive to meet.

Through food education and teaching resources, we will progress toward the Kansas Health Foundation’s vision of a culture where every Kansan can make healthy choices where they live, work and play.