Urban Planning Policy Is Likely Responsible For Food Disparities

Grocery store isle
Leslie Taylor-Grover
March 30, 2021

Access to healthy food is an essential part of our well-being. However, for millions of our people the corner store is the closest thing they have to a grocery store.

Racist housing and urban planning policies have kept our people from quality food for decades. Here’s how they did it.

#1 Redlining. Redlining was a legal means used to carve out Black neighborhoods in the worst parts of town. White terrorists also violently targeted anyone who tried to move elsewhere during Jim Crow. This helped concentrate poverty, and limited access to food since grocery stores still aren’t likely to locate in low-income and/or Black areas.

#2 Race Covenants. These were agreements among white homeowners to only sell and rent to white homeowners. This helped ensure our people would rarely get access to neighborhoods with good grocery stores, restaurants that aren’t fast food, or farmer’s markets.

#3 Freeways. Many cities strategically built freeways to separate low-income and Black neighborhoods in order to isolate our people. This still makes it harder to get access to healthy food, because grocery stores are much harder to access without a car.

Cities have deliberately sought to make it harder for us to access quality food. We must continue challenging this system by finding creative ways to feed our people and by making our political voices heard!

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