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Lynda Laughlin, a family demographer at the U.S. Census Bureau and a Petworth resident, just put together this disheartening Google map for Greater Greater Washington, pinpointing the exact locations of supermarkets within the District. As you might suspect, the southeast and northeast don’t fair so well.
As the map demonstrates, grocery stores are not evenly distributed across the District. Wards 2 and 3 have 16 grocery stores. That’s one store for every 8,911 residents. Ward 4 is the most populated ward (about 75,000 people), but only has one grocery store. There are only three grocery stores east of the river for residents of Wards 7 and 8. That’s one store for every 47,151 residents. Communities with large populations in poverty or large minority populations have poor access to grocery stores. Wards 4, 5, 7, and 8 are all majority African-American and all have large numbers of residents living in poverty, while wealthier, whiter Wards 2 and 3 have almost half the city’s grocery stores.
So why should you, a well-fed foodie reading yet another blog post about eating, care about this?
Because the imbalance of grocery stores has a profound impact on the health of people who live in these poor urban areas. This whole depressing issue makes me wonder if access to food should be left to the open market? The open market has no conscience and no morals. It doesn’t care who has access to fresh fruit and vegetables.